Russia In Electric Airliner Race

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Russia has announced it’s in the race to develop an electric airliner and it’s claiming it’s ahead of other countries in the pursuit. Andrei Dutov, head of the Zhukovsky Institute National Research Center, told Russian state media that his institution is making great strides toward pure electric flight. "A 500 kW electrical engine has been developed. Next year, we hope to carry out the first flight. This is a hybrid engine. In this area, we are even outpacing such rivals as Siemens and Airbus," the chief executive said. 

There’s nothing new about hybrid drives, in which a fossil fuel engine is used to generate electricity for the motors that drive the props. The 500 kW motor is the equivalent of 670 horsepower, which is at the low end of the power spectrum for light turboprops and not typically used on anything bigger than a King Air but Dutov says it’s a stepping stone toward a 50-seat airliner. At least one concept drawing shows an aircraft with 10 engines. It looks a bit like NASA's X-57 hybrid electric plane, which may also fly next year. Dutov said an all-electric airliner is at least 16 years away and he told Tass he expects a major technological breakthrough in about 2025 to pave the way.

Comments (6)

This is the most reasonable approach I've seen for getting electric propulsion into revenue flying.

Posted by: kim hunter | November 25, 2018 10:39 PM    Report this comment

Will chemically-fueled engine(s) generating electricity to drive ten whirling airscrews be quieter than if directly driving fewer? Lighter? More reliable? More efficient? Or just more novel?

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | November 26, 2018 7:57 AM    Report this comment

Ten electric motors but one one fossil fuel generator running? Looks like its a single eng. plane?

Posted by: j123 456 | November 26, 2018 9:21 AM    Report this comment

"There's nothing new about hybrid drives, in which a fossil fuel engine is used to generate electricity"

Problem is, that hybrids are NOT suitable for sustained high output operations.
This is the wrong application for a hybrid drive and I wish AvWeb would call them on the bad physics.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 26, 2018 6:51 PM    Report this comment

Russia has a scientist who developed fuel free turbines. See FUEL FREE TURBINES at the AESOP Institute website for details. The government stopped the work as it threatened the Russian economy. AESOP Energy has improved upon it and seeks support to build a prototype.

Posted by: Mark Goldes | November 26, 2018 10:00 PM    Report this comment

Hybrids have plenty of drawbacks and they are just as dependent on battery technology as all-electric vehicles are to provide peak power. But a smaller, highly optimized gas turbine generator set can greatly extend the range of the batteries. And regenerative power charging can recover much of the energy expended in the climb with the right flight profile. Distributed propulsion also offers some real aerodynamic and safety benefits.

The Russian proposal isn't a great solution. It's not even a real good one. Neither were the Curtis Condor or the Stinson Trimotor in their day. They only had to be good enough to eke out a niche in the revenue flight environment.

Posted by: kim hunter | November 27, 2018 6:20 PM    Report this comment

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