On August 12, 2021 the electric aircraft, which has been in operation at the Institute of Aircraft Design (IFB) at the University of Stuttgart for 10 years, succeeded in manned hybrid electric flight for the first time. The previous all-battery electric aircraft already set standards in its category with a range of 400 km. But the researchers at the IFB are continuously developing the electric plane and, in recent years, equipped it with a new hybrid drive that combines the advantages of electric flying with those of a hybrid generator system. This combines the very high efficiency and low noise impact of the electric aircraft with a long range and high performance.
The new research airfield “eFliegen BW” in Mengen (in the Sigmaringen district), which is a test environment for electric, energy-efficient and autonomous flying, is the location of the first flight in this development stage. There, for the first time, the aircraft flew using only electric power to determine the altered flight characteristics. Once these had been satisfactorily validated, testing of the hybrid electric drive could begin on the same day. The aircraft, manned by two people, flew close to the airfield to put the new propulsion system into operation for the first time. All new systems on board functioned as desired.
Lower fuel consumption
With this, the aircraft lays the foundation for the next test: A flight over the Swabian Jura while trying out the entire speed range. With a flight time of 3 hours and a distance of just under 500 km, the e-Genius exceeds its own record on its third flight, consuming less fuel than any other aircraft in its class.
Renewable fuels will soon be used on further test flights. These fuels are usually more expensive than conventional fuels. However, thanks to the aircraft’s low consumption, they can be used at a low cost in order to reduce CO2 emissions even further.
As was the case 10 years ago, the research platform “e-Genius” provides small-scale solutions to urgent problems in aviation today. From the most powerful electric aircraft to the most efficient hybrid aircraft, development at the University of Stuttgart shows the many possibilities and demonstrates them on test flights. These findings in a real environment are extremely important for the further development of propulsion systems for future aircraft.
About the IFB
The research aircraft was developed and built at the Institute of Aircraft Design (IFB) of the University of Stuttgart. Three professorships with roughly 70 scientific staff are based at the Institute. The “Manned Aircraft Projects” research group at the Department of Aircraft Design is working on energy-efficient and low-emission air travel. Other research focuses of the institute include lightweight construction, manufacturing technologies, and wind energy.
Jonas Lay, University of Stuttgart, Institute of Aircraft Design, phone +49 711 685 60437 E-Mail