Jan 2, 2023 | Aviation

A new technology demonstration program that continues to advance the development of hybrid electric propulsion technologies for commercial aviation and supports efforts to make air transport more fuel efficient to reduce CO2 emissions was launched. The Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking of the European Commission has awarded approximately €34M million over four years to a consortium led by Avio Aero for the AMBER demonstrator in a recently finalized agreement. The consortium consists of a total of 21 members from Europe; the Czech Aerospace Research Centre is among them.

“I am glad that, even with our contribution, it was possible to build a project focused on hybrid propulsion technologies, which will be an important part of modern aviation in the near future,” pointed out Czech Aerospace Research Centre’s General Director Josef Kašpar.

Plans are to mature, integrate and validate key technologies necessary for a megawatt (MW)- class hybrid-electric propulsion system powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The AMBER demonstrator will study the integration of hybrid electric components — including a motor/generator, power converters, and power transmission systems — with fuel cells for rig testing in the mid-2020s using Avio Aero’s advanced Catalyst turboprop engine.

“We are proud to announce the launch of the AMBER hybrid-electric program, which aims to demonstrate the benefits of an innovative aircraft propulsion system coupling a turbine engine with a fuel cell-powered electric motor. As this shows, we’re looking to design, develop, and test breakthrough technologies to shape the future of more sustainable flight in Europe, and we appreciate the collaboration with Clean Aviation to make this demonstrator possible,” said Giorgio Abrate, vice president of engineering for Avio Aero. “The recognition and awarding of our AMBER proposal by Clean Aviation confirms its strategic and technological value to support European Union ambitions to reach net-zero CO2 emissions from flight by 2050.”

Hybrid electric propulsion technologies can help improve engine performance, reducing fuel usage and emissions. The hybrid electric technologies Avio Aero and its parent company GE Aerospace are developing are also compatible with alternative fuels like Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and with advanced engine architectures such as an open fan. The Clean Aviation partnership with industry helps accelerate the innovation of key technologies like electrification to meet these ambitions.

List of participating consortium members:

  •  General Electric Deutschland Holding GmbH
  • GE Aviation Czech s.r.o.
  •  General Electric Company Polska sp. z o.o.
  • GE Marmara Technology Center MUH. HIZ. LTD.STI. ·
  • H2FLY GmbH · Leonardo S.p.A.
  • Centro Italiano Ricerche Aerospaziali (CIRA)
  • Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V. (DLR)
  • Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.
  • Czech Aerospace Research Centre (VZLU)
  • Czech Technical University in Prague (CTU)
  • Politecnico di Bari
  • Politecnico di Torino
  • Università di Pisa
  •  Łukasiewicz Research Network – Institute of Aviation (WIA)
  • AM Testing srl
  •  Dream Innovation srl
  • Ergon Research srl
  • NTI Engineering srl
  • GE Aviation System Limited

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