An electric and gasoline engine for aircraft powered by engines of 140- to 200-horsepower will debut at the Aero show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, next month. Look for special reports on the show on AOPA Online.
Flight Design, Germany’s manufacturer of the top-selling light sport aircraft now on the market, and Franz Aircraft Engines, developed the hybrid engine. “Rising oil prices and environmental regulations will begin to force airplane manufacturers to rethink propulsion systems. Flight Design is sure that, in the long-term, research developments for electric or hydrogen powered propulsion systems will provide realistic, useful solutions,” said Flight Design CEO Matthias Betsch.
The design calls for the electric motor to be used only on takeoff and climb, adding an extra 40 horsepower. “The result is an optimized engine in respect to size, weight, and fuel efficiency for cruise flight, with additional 40 horsepower for takeoff, climb, or during an engine stoppage because of fuel starvation," said Betsch.
If the gasoline engine were to fail in flight, the electric motor could continue for five minutes. While it wouldn’t be capable of keeping a typical 2,700-pound aircraft in level flight, the motor would give the aircraft a glide ratio of 25- or 30-to-1. First flight tests of the new powerplant will occur this year. Flight Design has begun preliminary talks with European aviation authorities on certification.