Raytheon, Pratt & Whitney complete first engine run for Dash 8 hybrid-electric demonstrator
December 20, 2022 By Jon Robinson
Raytheon Technologies on December 20 completed the successful first engine run of its regional hybrid-electric flight demonstrator, marking a key milestone moving toward flight testing scheduled to begin in 2024. The propulsion system’s initial run took place at Pratt & Whitney’s facility in Longueuil, Quebec, and performed as expected.
The hybrid-electric engine system integrates a 1 MW electric motor developed by Collins Aerospace with a Pratt & Whitney fuel-burning engine that has been adapted for hybrid-electric operation. Both Collins and Pratt are operating companies of Raytheon. The engine will eventually be integrated on a De Havilland Canada Dash 8-100 demonstrator.
This powerplant technology, explains Pratt & Whitney, will enable more efficient engine performance during different phases of flight, such as take-off, climb and cruise. The engine maker notes its hybrid-electric approach will reduce fuel burn and CO2 emissions by up to 30 per cent when compared to today’s most advanced regional turboprop aircraft.
“Hybrid-electric propulsion technology offers significant potential to optimize efficiency across a range of different aircraft applications, helping our industry meet its ambitious goal for achieving net zero CO2 emissions,” said Jean Thomassin, executive director new products and services, Pratt & Whitney Canada. “With our ground test program now well underway, planned flight testing will enable us to accelerate the demonstration of this next generation sustainable propulsion technology as we continue to expand our collaboration within Canada’s aerospace ecosystem and beyond.”
The Flight Test Centre of Excellence (Cert Center Canada – 3C) based in Ottawa, ON, will modify and operate an De Havilland Canada Dash 8-100 aircraft, serving as the platform for future flight demonstrations.
“We are honoured that Raytheon Technologies has chosen our Design Approval Organization to lead the flight test program for this historic demonstrator project,” said John Maris, 3C president and chief test pilot for the project. “3C has assembled a trusted Quebec team that includes Chrono Aviation, WAAS Aerospace, and Elisen & associés to integrate the hybrid-electric powertrain, battery system, and high voltage electrical harness into 3C’s Dash 8 research aircraft.”
Since Raytheon Technologies launched the demonstrator project via its Pratt & Whitney Canada and Collins Aerospace businesses in July 2021, supported by the Governments of Canada and Quebec, a number of organizations in Canada and around the world have joined the initiative.
H55 S.A., recently the subject of a minority investment by Raytheon’s venture capital arm, RTX Ventures, will supply battery systems. The development of battery component designs and associated electrical control systems will also be supported by the National Research Council of Canada and the Innovative Vehicle Institute.
Ricardo PLC is also supporting the project with component design, system integration, and testing. De Havilland Canada is supporting integration of the propulsion system on the experimental aircraft.
Raytheon’s development of hybrid-electric propulsion technologies is focused in multiple demonstrator programs, including STEP-Tech and SWITCH. The company is also developing technologies to support greater use of cleaner, alternative fuels, including Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) and hydrogen.