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Airbus, Siemens to co-build electrically-powered aircraft

Thu 7 Apr 2016

European aero manufacturer Airbus and German engineering giant Siemens have partnered in a collaboration which will see the duo design and build electric aircraft technology.

The companies said that the project would involve a joint team of around 200 engineers. The results of which will demonstrate the possibilities of incorporating electric and hybrid systems in future aircraft, including small planes, helicopters and UAVs.

‘We believe that by 2030 passenger aircraft below 100 seats could be propelled by hybrid propulsion systems and we are determined to explore this possibility together with world-class partners like Siemens,’ said Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders in today’s release.

Siemens President and CEO Joe Kaeser also commented that the partnership would form part of his company’s Innovation AG department, which is exploring the application of new technological trends in industry.

‘By entering the field of highly innovative aircraft propulsion technology, we’re opening a new chapter in e-mobility. [The] collaboration… will create new perspectives for our company and open us up even more to disruptive innovation,’ added Kaeser.

The companies also referred to the urgency of meeting European targets for reducing the airline industry’s contribution to climate change and cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 75% by 2050, compared to values recorded in 2000. In addition to cutting chemical pollutants, they said that the electric aircraft would also be quieter than traditional planes, eliminating noise from aviation.

Airbus traditionally manufactures large aircraft which seat over 100 passengers, but over recent years it has invested more funds in advancing the incorporation of electric engines in aeroplanes to cut fuel consumption – one of the highest costs for airline companies.

Last year, the aircraft maker unveiled an electric plane prototype with a successful English Channel crossing. The two-seat demonstration plane was powered exclusively by lithium batteries and took 36 minutes to complete the journey from the English town of Lydd, Kent to Calais in France.

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