Siemens signed an agreement to sell its eAircraft unit to Rolls-Royce at the Paris Airshow in Le Bourget, France, on Tuesday. Siemens eAircraft, which develops electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems for the aerospace industry, has facilities in Germany and Hungary and employees approximately 180 people. Siemens reports that it has been working on electric aircraft propulsion development and research for about ten years, including projects such as Airbus’ CityAirbus and E-Fan X demonstrator.
“Electrification is set to have as dramatic an impact on aviation as the replacement of piston engines by gas turbines,” said Rolls-Royce Electrical Director Rob Watson. “We have already made significant strides in realizing our strategy of ‘championing electrification’ and this move will accelerate our ambitions in aerospace by adding vital skills and technology to our portfolio. It brings us increased scale and additional expertise as we develop a product range of hybrid power and propulsion systems.”
According to Rolls-Royce, the two companies will continue to look for opportunities to work together as part of the agreement. Closing on the acquisition is expected in late 2019. Financial details of the agreement have not been disclosed.
Will it make a private airplane cheaper, faster, lighter, or have longer range?
Absolutely. From what I’ve been reading, and attending industry conferences, about 80% lower cost of operation. The electric motor has some bearings and cooling system but that’s it, nothing else to wear out. Electric aircraft are quiet: no more airport neighbor complaints. They produce the same amount of power at any altitude and can be “overpowered” briefly without damage. Batteries are still the challenge, but look how far electric cars have come. Check out this for starters (2011 sounds like so long ago now) https://www.nasa.gov/offices/oct/early_stage_innovation/centennial_challenges/general_aviation/index.html
And this around-the-world solar flight: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Impulse