Diamond Flies Multi-Engine Hybrid
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.”