Rolls-Royce Reveals Hybrid VTOL

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At the Farnborough International Air Show, which opened Monday in Great Britain, Rolls-Royce revealed a hybrid VTOL concept that could carry four to five passengers at speeds up to 217 knots with a range up to 435 NM. The design should be flying by the “early 2020s,” the company said in a news release. The concept vehicle uses gas-turbine technology to generate electricity to power six electric propulsors, the company said, which are specially designed to have a low noise profile. It also has a battery for energy storage. It would never need recharging, since the battery is charged by the gas turbine, so it wouldn’t require any special infrastructure. The wings rotate 90 degrees, allowing for vertical takeoffs and landings.

The design could be adapted for personal transport, public transport or military applications and is based upon technologies that already exist or are currently under development, according to Rolls-Royce. “Electrification is an exciting and inescapable trend across industrial technology markets and while the move to more electric propulsion will be gradual for us, it will ultimately be a revolution,” said Rob Watson, who heads up Rolls-Royce’s team working on the project. “Building on our existing expertise in electric technologies and aviation, Rolls-Royce is actively exploring a range of possible markets and applications for electric and hybrid-electric flight. We are well placed to play a leading role in the emerging world of personal air mobility and will also look to work in collaboration with a range of partners.”

Comments (4)

Gas turbine technology to make electricity? I'm not a Mech E, but isn't that terribly inefficient? (Ask anyone sitting on the ground in a TBM, waiting for takeoff.) Wouldn't a Diesel that's tuned to operate at an optimal speed be a lot better? I mean, I think the hybrid cars have already figured this one out, even with IC engines.

Posted by: Mike P | July 17, 2018 3:05 AM    Report this comment

Not only inefficient but costly, too.

And would I need an airframe & propulsor license to work on it ?? :-)

Posted by: Larry Stencel | July 17, 2018 5:23 AM    Report this comment

Gas turbine technology to generate electricity in an aircraft is not exactly new technology. I believe the jet jockeys call it an "APU". Using a turbine versus a diesel also makes more sense in regard to weight, complexity, reliability, and TBO. It's also not terribly inefficient to go from mechanical to electrical and back to electrical, although you will lose some energy.

I still can't understand why everyone is so obsessed with VTOL for everyday transportation, though. The vertical phase of any helo flight, especially near the ground, with swirling winds, wires, and buildings is the most dangerous part, with little margin for error. It's also an ineffiecient phase (that's where you will be pouring energy down the drain). The dream scenario for this type of transport is to take off and land in urban, populated areas. I'm going to get neck strain from looking up all the time to avoid falling aircraft.

Posted by: James Freal | July 17, 2018 6:05 AM    Report this comment

Gas turbine technology to make electricity?

Well, yea.
Unlike batteries, the aircraft gets lighter as it flies.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | July 17, 2018 6:28 AM    Report this comment

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