The quiet revolution of a move from jet engines to an electric-propulsion (hybrid) aircraft kicked up a gear today with Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens announcing a partnership to build a hybrid electric engine, which they are planning to fly in 2020.
Historically, electric aircrafts were once a hobbyist’s fancy. However, a surge in technological advancements means electric-propulsion aircraft projects are now drawing serious attention from a number of stakeholders and, more importantly, the worlds global aerospace players. This warranted attention has been clearly evidenced by an uptick in the number of M&A transactions and joint ventures between larger aerospace companies and niche players focused purely on electric aircrafts. In October, wires reported that Boeing was to acquire Aurora Flight Sciences, a small US company with a portfolio of diverse and innovative research programs focusing on the aerospace industry. Similarly, in April Boeing and JetBlue Airways invested in a start-up, Zunum Aero, developing an electric-powered aircraft with the potential to transform short-haul flights.
Furthermore, the quest for cleaner and quitter aircrafts is extending beyond commercial aviation – the US military has also shown an avid interest by testing a synthetic-fuel B-1 strategic bomber.
With such profound changes anticipated to aircraft design and performance, the impact on the supply chain is likely to be widespread and will extend beyond just manufacturing. Despite the challenges, we can expect to see a flurry of M&A activity as start-ups and new entrants look to create new markets and drive industry-defining technological concepts.
Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and Siemens team up for electric future Partnership launches E-Fan X hybrid-electric flight demonstrator