these days, air show is not just the show-off ground for huge jets and military demonstrations. at last week’s Paris Air Show, Siemen showcased its motorglider powered by the first serial hybrid electric drive to be used in an aircraft. this hybrid aircraft, dubbed the DA36 E-Star, has a 94-horsepower Siemens electric motor that powers the prop while a 40-horsepower Wankel rotary engine drives a generator that keeps the juice flowing to the motor. needless to say, a hybrid is necessary for airborne vehicle cos’ i am sure one cannot imagine what will happen if an electric flying machine runs out of juice in midair.
the aircraft uses full electric power for taking off and climb, and once the plane is cruising, the gasoline engine kicks in to continue to ensure electricity keeps flowing to the motor. hybrid like this brings not only brings about reduction in carbon footprint but also cuts the noise pollution. if you ask me, the latter is a most welcomed plus point. cos’ its no fun living near an airfield with aircraft constantly roaring past you while you trying to listen to Lady Gaga. this composite two-seater was developed by Siemens with aerospace giant EADS and Diamond Aircraft of Austria.
a next generation motor that’s significantly lighter is in the works and coupled with other improvements such as drive train and battery technology, should further reduce its fuel consumption. the company hopes to scaled up this technology to accommodate larger aircraft sometime in the future.