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Compiled by the editorial staff of eVTOL.com

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Airbus opens electric propulsion test facility

Airbus has officially opened its new E-Aircraft System (EAS) House, described by the aircraft manufacturer as Europe’s largest test facility dedicated to alternative propulsion systems and fuels.

Airbus E-Aircraft System House
Airbus’s E-Aircraft System House is Europe’s largest test facility dedicated to alternative propulsion systems and fuels. Airbus Photo

The 3,000-square-meter (32,300-square foot) test house is located in Ottobrunn, near Munich, Germany. Airbus said the 50-million-euro facility will allow it to test the latest electric motors and hybrid-electric engines directly on its own premises, and develop its own low-emission alternative propulsion units.

According to Martin Nüsseler, head of E-Aircraft Systems for Airbus, the EAS House is “where we put the engines through their paces. We can test everything from electric motors for unmanned flying taxis to hybrid-electric engines for the commercial aircraft of the future.”

That includes testing of the electric motor for the E-Fan X, the hybrid-electric aircraft demonstrator being developed by Airbus in partnership with Rolls-Royce and Siemens. Based on a BAe 146, the test aircraft will have one of its four gas turbines replaced with a 2-MW electric motor.

EAS House ribbon cutting
Airbus CTO Grazia Vittadini inaugurates the EAS House alongside Ilse Aigner, president of the Bavarian State Parliament. Airbus Photo

Rolls-Royce is expected to deliver the electric motor to Airbus in early 2020. Once the motor arrives at the EAS House, Airbus said it will undergo rigorous testing in preparation for the E-Fan X’s first flight, scheduled for 2021.

“Is 2 MW enough power? How will altitude and speed affect this power? We need to find solutions to both of these questions, and the EAS House will help us to do so,” explained E-Fan X demonstrator lead Olivier Maillard.

Airbus chief technology officer Grazia Vittadini said the E-Aircraft System House “represents a real competitive advantage for Airbus. With its 3,000-square-meter test area, we now have the infrastructure to move the transition to emission-neutral flight forward at an even faster pace.”

Airbus also recently announced a new battery lab at its Airbus China Innovation Center, which will help develop high-performance and safe battery technology for eVTOL air taxis.

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