A three-pronged consortium made up of Rolls Royce, Airbus and Siemens is preparing to have a hybrid jet testing the electric flight concept by 2020, with an aircraft known as the E-Fan X hybrid-electric technology demonstrator hopefully ready to fly in a little more than two years.
Initially, the plan is to replace one of the test plane's four engines with an electric model prepared by Rolls, then if that goes well they'll try it again with two. There are two other key components helping run the motor; a 2MW battery will buffer the power provided by a 2MW onboard generator, so it's going to a lose a few seats from having electric systems running alongside traditional engines.
But that's no problem at this early stage, as Rolls technology boss Paul Stein thinks this is the future and heralds the dawn of a new age of cleaner flying, explaining: "The E-Fan X enables us to build on our wealth of electrical expertise to revolutionise flight and welcome in the third generation of aviation. This is an exciting time for us as this technological advancement will result in Rolls-Royce creating the world’s most powerful flying generator."
They don't say what the generator runs off, mind. [Rolls Royce]