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Pratt & Whitney to Test High-Power Mobile Charging Unit in Hybrid-Electric Flight Demonstrator

by Anna

Pratt & Whitney Canada, a division of aerospace and defense company RTX Corporation, plans to test a bidirectional mobile charging unit in its upcoming hybrid-electric flight demonstrator. The unit is capable of supplying up to 1,500 V of power to the plane’s battery system. The mobile charging unit, delivering 280 kW and 1,500 V, aligns with the Megawatt Charging System standard for high-voltage technologies. Pratt & Whitney, in partnership with the National Research Council Canada, developed the charger to support the regional RTX hybrid-electric demonstrator, aiming to improve fuel efficiency by 30% and reduce carbon emissions. The mobile charger, featuring bidirectional capabilities, is designed to serve batteries developed by Swiss electric aviation company H55.

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The mobile charging unit, with off-the-shelf components, will contribute to the hybrid-electric propulsion system for the RTX demonstrator. The collaboration with H55 involves the development of an energy storage system for a 49-seat De Havilland Dash 8 experimental aircraft. Pratt & Whitney’s hybrid-electric demonstrator will integrate a fuel-burning engine and a battery-charged electric motor to achieve a lower carbon footprint. The bidirectional functionality of the mobile charger, allowing energy discharge to an external load, hints at potential applications of vehicle-to-grid technologies in electric aviation.

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The integrated hybrid-electric propulsion system, including the mobile charger, thermal engine, and 1 MW electric motor by Collins Aerospace, will undergo flight testing in 2024. The propulsion system will be incorporated into a Dash 8 plane, featuring a parallel hybrid configuration with a 2 MW-class propulsion system. During take-off and climb phases, the electric motor will supply extra power, while the fuel-based engine will support cruise efficiency. Pratt & Whitney’s proactive approach and investment in innovative technologies reflect the broader efforts to position the UK aerospace industry for success amid evolving challenges and opportunities.

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