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Hybrid Airplanes

Hybrid airplanes and other hybrid aircraft are a thing of the future. When those in the 'hybrid aircraft' industry use this term, they are referring to a form of hybrid that combines the aerodynamic lift of the body hull shape combined with the lighter-than-air properties of the buoyancy derived from a helium-filled outer shell.

 

 

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The term 'hybrid airplanes' (and aircraft) as we are using the term is for a hybridized power system to propel the airplane. To date, there are fuel cell hydrogen unmanned ultra light planes and other alternative fuel aircraft, but none that can truly be called a hybrid-electric airplane.

NASA and Boeing have been developing plans for a hydrogen-powered jet airplane (Boeing 777) that reforms Jet-A fuel into hydrogen (and bi-products). The idea is to create "more electric airplanes" in order to reduce airport emissions using solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). The first contract for the initiative has been completed and the second issued. The timeline for this hydrogen fuel cell craft to roll out is not until 2015.

Boeing has also been partnering with some other research companies like Intelligent Energy Ltd, Sener, Diamond Aircraft Industries, Aerlyper and Advanced Technology Products Corporation to combine technological resources and bring a hydrogen-powered prototype to market more quickly. The Fuel Cell Demonstrator airplane as it is being called is the first step towards developing and flight-testing a fuel cell-powered electric airplane.

With all of the hybrid vehicle development as of late in other industries such as automotive, locomotive and watercraft, one wonders why the aircraft industry is lagging in hybrid technology? This is especially true for smaller aircraft such as single engine propeller driven airplanes that may benefit from the fuel savings of cruising on electric power with engine assist as needed. There has even been talk in this industry about moving to clean-burning and efficient diesel technology and if so, then perhaps a diesel-electric hybrid power train will not be far behind.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

 

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