Petrol-electric hybrid aircraft is first to charge in flight
A hybrid power aircraft has been successfully tested in the UK in an important step towards cleaner low-carbon air travel.
The aircraft, developed by researchers from Cambridge University with funding support from Boeing, is powered by a parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system where an electric motor and petrol engine work together to drive the propeller. It uses up to 30 per cent less fuel than a comparable plane with a petrol-only engine, and is also able to recharge its batteries in flight, the first time this has been achieved.
Until recently, although such hybrid systems were suitable for cars, the technology could not be transferred into the aviation sector as the batteries required were too heavy and had insufficient capacity. However, the development of improved lithium-polymer batteries has made hybrid planes a possibility.
Image credit: youtube.com