A hybrid-electric demonstrator aircraft - the Tecnam P2010 H3PS - powered by Rolls-Royce, has taken to the skies for the first time.
Image courtesy Rolls-Royce
The first flight of the P2010 H3PS demonstrator powered by the world's first integrated parallel hybrid propulsion system took place on 21st December 2021.
The success of this exciting milestone is the result of a team of specialists from Rolls-Royce, aircraft manufacturer Tecnam and engine manufacturer Rotax, working together as part of our joint ambition to decarbonise aviation. The Permit to Fly was issued by ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority.
Rob Watson, President of Rolls-Royce Electrical said: “The successful first flight of the P2010 H3PS demonstrator is a pioneering achievement by the team to advance hybrid-electric flight. Working with Tecnam and Rotax has been hugely beneficial and this project has continued to build our capabilities in delivering all-electric and hybrid-electric power and propulsion systems for the advanced air mobility market. Rolls-Royce is committed to investing in the technology solutions to enable and deliver sustainable aviation.”
H3PS which stands for ‘High Power High Scalability Aircraft Hybrid Powertrain’, is a project funded under the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The project involved equipping a four-seat Tecnam P2010 with a parallel-hybrid electric powertrain – believed to be the first of its kind ever developed for general aviation – to help reduce fuel consumption of up to 20%, while maintaining and even extending aircraft range.
The Tecnam P2010 H3PS is powered by a 104kW Rotax 915 IS engine coupled with a 30kW Rolls-Royce electric motor, so in total a 134kW (180hp) powertrain in a fully integrated parallel hybrid configuration.The project introduces advanced technology for a smaller power class, while being scalable for larger general aviation aircraft.
According to Tecnam Aircraft’s R&D Director Fabio Russo, the H3PS successful flight test demonstration marks a major milestone on the aviation industry’s journey towards de-carbonisation and R&D on alternative powertrains. He said: “Though H3PS is not intended for market purposes, our successful flight tests demonstrate that hybrid powertrain, with combustion engine coupled with an electric motor, can bear the same useful load of the traditional 180hp combustion engine.”
"We are very pleased that we could intensify our collaboration with Tecnam and Rolls-Royce within the H3PS project. The tests showed that there are still challenges to take up, however due to the efforts of all three parties the test flight could be concluded with deeper understanding and of course with a safe landing. The project showed that the joint venture with the qualified knowledge of these three global player companies in aviation lead to very interesting and future-orientated results for innovative propulsion systems", said Michael Dopona, Head of Design Organisation BRP-Rotax.