In a move that leaves no question as to how it feels about the promise of electric propulsion, Rolls-Royce has entered into an agreement to acquire Siemens’ eAircraft business, the company announced during the Paris Air Show 2019.
Siemens’ significant work in electric and hybrid-electric propulsion development began to take shape several years ago under the direction of Dr. Frank Anton, in locations in Germany and Hungary. Its hybrid aircraft, the Magnus eFusion first flew on April 11, 2018, equipped with a SP55D engine and a FlyEco diesel engine. While it suffered an accident on May 31, 2018, investigators determined that the airplane’s batteries had not caught fire prior to the crash.
Rolls-Royce had made forays of its own into the electrification of aircraft, with “successful ground tests” of a hybrid propulsion system suitable for use across a range of platforms, including EVTOLs (hybrid electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft). The system uses a Rolls-Royce M250 gas turbine engine to charge a set of onboard batteries, utilizing a turbo-generator.
The two companies joined forces prior to the agreement, on the E-Fan demonstrator, another hybrid-electric propulsion project in collaboration with Airbus.
The deal is expected to close in late 2019, following “employee consultation,” according to the company.