Embraer Unveils Plans for Hybrid Electric, Hydrogen Electric Aircraft

The aircraft maker revealed the two aircraft concepts as part of its bid to attain net-zero emissions by 2050.

Embraer unveiled two new concepts for hybrid electric and hydrogen electric aircraft Monday, which the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer says is part of its plan to attain net-zero emissions by 2050.

The aircraft concepts are part of Embraer’s Energia sustainability initiative launched last year, and include new propulsion technology on smaller aircraft.

“Guided by the company’s 50 year technical expertise, external inputs from airlines, and joint studies with engine OEMs, these two approaches to net-zero offer a technically realistic and economically feasible pathway to net-zero,” the company said in a statement.

Last year, Embraer began studying four aircraft concepts that featured new technology and used renewable energy. Since that time, the company has evaluated different architectures and propulsion systems, according to Arjan Meijer, president and CEO for Embraer Commercial Aviation.

“I believe we have set bold but realistic goals for these concepts to come to market,” Meijer said.

Energia Hybrid E19-HE, E30-HE

Among the concepts Embraer is exploring is the Energia Hybrid E19-HE and E30-HE, the 19-seat and 30-seat variants.

According to the company, the aircraft features parallel hybrid-electric propulsion, up to 90 percent CO2 emissions reduction when using sustainable aviation fuel, 19 and 30 seat variants, and rear-mounted engines. The aircraft would reach technology readiness in the early 2030s, Embraer said.

The aircraft range is 500 nm, and carbon emissions would be slashed 90 percent with SAF, and by 30 percent with jet-A1, Embraer said. The parallel hybrid-electric propulsion comes with an additional environmental benefit: 60 percent lower external noise.

Energia Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Embraer’s Energia H2 Fuel Cell E19-H2FC and E30-H2FC variants feature hydrogen electric propulsion, zero CO2 emissions, 70 percent lower external noise, and rear-mounted electric engines. The aircraft range is at least 200 nm.

Embraer’s Energia H2 Fuel Cell E30-H2FC variant [Courtesy: Embraer]

“As new propulsion technologies will be first applied on smaller aircraft, Embraer is in a unique position,”  said Luis Carlos Affonso, senior vice president of engineering, technology and corporate strategy at Embraer, in a statement. “The 19- and 30-seaters are sensible starting points for focused studies since they are likely to present earlier technical and economical readiness. While the challenges of net-zero are significant, in less than 25 years our commercial aircraft have already reduced fuel burn and CO2 emissions by almost 50 percent on a seat/mile basis, using only conventional fuels and propulsion—I’m convinced net-zero is a goal we can reach.”

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