Honeywell Aerospace products and services are already found on virtually every commercial, defense and space aircraft. Recently, the company has displayed its commitment to investing in the urban air mobility industry with multiple partnerships. In January, it was announced that Pipistrel and Honeywell will “combine aerospace expertise to address the technical, regulatory and business challenges of the emerging on-demand mobility market” – an effort that will leverage Honeywell’s avionics, navigation, flight control systems connectivity, and other beneficial products and services onto a future Pipistrel vertical takeoff and landing air vehicle to support fully autonomous operations in the future. Further, Honeywell announced plans to have its autonomous navigation and landing technology aboard the Volocopter, an 18-propellor electric VTOL aircraft based in Bruchsal, Germany.
In addition to recent partnership announcements, Honeywell has been developing a hybrid-electric turbogenerator with a primary purpose of adapting it to vehicles in the urban air mobility industry. This powerplant is an electrified version of a 1,100-shaft horsepower HTS900 gas turbine engine already found on many helicopters today, and falls in the “sweet spot [for shaft horsepower],” according to Bryan Wood, who runs the hybrid propulsion division for Honeywell Aerospace’s engines and power systems group.
The engine is projected to produce 30 to 50 percent fewer carbon emissions than the traditional HTS900 engine, and Wood has mentioned that many customers are already very interested in using the engine in eVTOL applications. However, Honeywell plans to have an all-electric engine in the 2023 to 2025 timeframe that will use batteries and fuel cells, omitting the gas turbine completely. The current version of Honeywell’s turbogenerator was on display March 5 – 7 at Honeywell’s Booth during the show at this year’s Heli-Expo in Georgia.
Why its important: As emphasized by Chris Hawley, marketing director at Honeywell Aerospace, the electrified version of the already-efficient HTS900 turbine engine will be cleaner, safer, and quieter than engines on the market today. This technology in which Honeywell has invested its resources has great potential to advance the urban air mobility industry and provide a feasible path forward for electric VTOL aircraft to begin commercial operations.
Sources // Honeywell; AIN