Energy solutions

Hungary: Hybrid drive also for aircraft

| Editor: Theresa Knell

Siemens is selling its eAircraft business unit producing electric propulsion systems to Rolls-Royce, which has partial Hungarian interests.
Siemens is selling its eAircraft business unit producing electric propulsion systems to Rolls-Royce, which has partial Hungarian interests. (Source: siemens.com)

Siemens is selling its eAircraft business unit producing electric propulsion systems to Rolls-Royce, which has partial Hungarian interests.

Siemens and Rolls-Royce signed an agreement at the International Paris Air Show in Le Bourget (Paris) for the sale of Siemens’ eAircraft unit. Through its Vision 2020+ strategy, Siemens intends to sharpen its portfolio’s focus. For this reason, the company’s business with electric and hybrid-electric systems for aircraft will have substantially better growth perspectives with new owners closely connected to the aerospace industry. Closing is expected to take place in late 2019. The partners have agreed not to disclose the financial details of the transaction.

Aviation history

“Our eAircraft team, under the leadership of Frank Anton, has made aviation history several times in the past ten years and is a pioneer in electric and hybrid-electric systems for aircraft,” said Roland Busch, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Siemens AG. “With Rolls-Royce, we’ve found a perfect home for this business and have placed its expertise in the hands of one of Airbus’ close partners. We will continue to co-operate with Rolls-Royce, in particular by making our digital solutions portfolio available in order to facilitate this major step toward sustainable, lower-emission aviation.”

Establishing the business

As an in-house startup with around 180 employees, Siemens eAircraft develops electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems for the aerospace industry. At locations in Munic, Erlangen (Germany) and Budapest, the unit has been cooperating with partners like Airbus to create prototypes with power ratings ranging from less than one hundred to several thou-sand kilowatts — for instance for the Airbus air taxi, the CityAirbus. To further drive the technology, eAircraft entered into a development partnership with Airbus in 2016. Siemens has been researching and developing electric aircraft propulsion systems for about ten years, setting several records along the way.

Siemens’ Hungarian eAircraft unit started operations in 2014, and today has a team of around 100. Since then, the electric propulsion system developed by them has been used to lift aircraft into the air not only in Hungary, but also in the United States and even Germa-ny. This deal will see the Hungarian eAircraft team also continuing its work as part of Rolls-Royce.

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“Siemens started working on electric flight five years ago in Hungary. I am proud to have worked with others helping in and contributing to the continuous development, growth, and success of the team. They will carry on with their activities at one of the leading avia-tion industry companies of the world. Consequently, they will still have an impact on the world of aviation and will keep making it more sustainable. I wish the best for our col-leagues becoming part of the new structure, and am confident that they will be just as suc-cessful in their work for Rolls-Royce as they had been at Siemens”, said Dale A. Martin, president and CEO of Siemens Zrt.

“Electric flight is a future-oriented technology, and we are very much looking forward to closer cooperation with Rolls-Royce, soon to be part of our team. Hungarian colleagues are amongst the best in our field, and can help Hungary achieve a prominent place in the area of electric flight. We are grateful to Siemens for making it possible to do this pioneering work. New opportunities are now opening up for us, and we are looking forward to them,” said Dr. Gergely György Balázs, head of the Hungarian eAircraft team.

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