Diamond Flies Multi-Engine Hybrid

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Image: Diamond Aircraft

Image: Diamond Aircraft

Diamond Aircraft announced the successful first flight of a multi-engine hybrid aircraft it developed in partnership with Siemens AG. The aircraft is a reconfigured (formerly single-engine) DA40, which the company says uses a combustion engine to power two independent electric drive systems consisting of a motor, battery and inverter each. The flight took place last week at Diamond’s headquarters in Wiener Neustadt, Austria.

“This is the first serial-hybrid electric plane in the world with two electrically powered free-stream propellers and one combustion engine,” said Siemens eAircraft Executive Vice President Frank Anton. “A distributed propulsion architecture opens entirely new possibilities for the design of highly efficient planes—and we have now proven its technical feasibility.”

Diamond says the aircraft is intended to serve as a test bed for hybrid technology that uses one generator, multiple electric motors and distributed drive system architecture. Other changes to the stock DA40 include the addition of two electric engines on a forward canard and two 12-kWh batteries installed in the rear passenger compartment. The aircraft has three pilot-controlled power modes: pure electric mode, in which the diesel generator is off; cruise mode, where the generator provides all power to the motor; and charge mode, which allows the generator to charge the batteries. It has an endurance of 30 minutes on electric power only—it’s also capable of all-electric takeoffs—and up to 5 hours using the hybrid system.

Siemens and Diamond began the project in 2013. According to Diamond, the main objective was to “develop an aircraft that has a lower fuel consumption (higher efficiency), as well as a lower noise footprint.”

Comments (4)

If it's a real canard (as opposed to mere motor pylons), the single-motor flight characteristics (about the roll axis) should be... interesting.

Posted by: YARS (Tom Yarsley) | November 9, 2018 9:25 AM    Report this comment

So, let's see, 1 fueled engine and 1 generator and 2 electric motors and 2 battery systems, 2 inverter systems, 2 propellers, 3 cooling systems, and...

The question I have is how much more maintenance and systems management costs are there over-and-above the standard single engine DA40.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 9, 2018 10:24 AM    Report this comment

Mark -

This is a test-bed of a multi-engine aircraft, meant to study efficiencies and lower noise. It's not intended for production.

If you want to compare maintenance costs, it would be best to compare it to a twin engine airplane with two fuel engines and all the maintenance costs associated with them. I understand that electric systems have lower maintenance costs. No fouled sparkplugs, no cutting open oil filters to look for metal flakes, etc.

Posted by: Rollin Olson | November 10, 2018 4:48 PM    Report this comment

I know it's a "test" but you not only have higher maintenance because it has a gas engine and 2 electric motor systems BUT the private pilot needs a MULTI-ENGINE rating to fly it. I seriously don't see the point in the added costs and complexities over that of a DA40 with a good muffler.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 12, 2018 4:23 PM    Report this comment

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