GE Aviation to Partner with Boeing on Hybrid Electric Program

Aurora Flight Sciences will use a Saab 340B platform for the initial flight test development.

Boeing and its subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences will modify the test plane, a Saab 340B aircraft powered by GE CT7-9B turboprop engines. [Courtesy: Boeing]

GE Aviation and Boeing (NYSE:BA) have announced a partnership under a NASA project to begin a hybrid-electric flight test demonstration program.

GE Aviation, as part of NASA’s Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration (EPFD) project, has enlisted the help of Boeing to support flight tests of its hybrid electric propulsion system on a modified Saab 340B aircraft and CT7-9B turboprop engines.

Boeing, alongside its subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, will offer GE Aviation services for airplane modification, system integration, and flight-testing.

“We’re inspired to be joining GE Aviation in demonstrating the viability of hybrid-electric propulsion technology,” said Naveed Hussain, Boeing chief technology officer and vice president and general manager of Boeing Research and Technology. “We’re pleased to contribute our extensive research and testing of hybrid electric propulsion systems—including a longstanding development partnership with NASA—for a project that will no doubt be an important milestone on the path to more sustainable air travel.”

A megawatt-class GE motor/generator electrically powering an 11-foot diameter propeller on a test stand. [Courtesy: GE]

Last year, NASA and GE Aviation announced the launch of their research partnership to develop a megawatt (MW) class hybrid-electric propulsion system for single-aisle aircraft. Over the past five years, NASA, GE, Boeing, and others have gathered $260 million in investments toward the project. The program intends to begin ground and flight tests in the mid-2020s.

“We are excited about the opportunity to collaborate with Boeing to advance hybrid electric and electric propulsion systems,” said Mohamed Ali, vice president and general manager of engineering for GE Aviation. “NASA’s Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration project is an opportunity for GE Aviation and Boeing, world leaders in aviation technologies, to show hybrid electric propulsion is real and possible for the future of commercial flight to reduce carbon emissions.”

Aurora’s headquarters in Manassas, Virginia, will host aircraft systems engineering and testing, while nacelle manufacturing will be hosted at facilities in Mississippi and West Virginia.

“We are proud to contribute Aurora’s expertise in aircraft components, systems engineering, and testing to this important project,” said Per Beith, president and CEO of Aurora Flight Sciences. “Working with GE Aviation, we will make a significant impact on the advancement of electrified propulsion for commercial air transport.”

According to GE Aviation, the company has been maturing high-power hybrid electric systems for over a decade, and it hopes to advance the aviation industry toward its goal of net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050

Jeremy attained his bachelor's in journalism and emerging media from Kennesaw State University. He also served in the Georgia Air National Guard as a C-130 Crew Chief for six years, holding an associate in aircraft maintenance technology.

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