Airbus and British engineering multinational Rolls-Royce have scrapped plans to launch a hybrid-electric aircraft, the ‘E-Fan X’.
Launched back in 2017, the collaboration was part of the European Commission’s Flightpath 2050 initiative. The scheme pushes for subsidised innovation within member states, targeting fossil-fuel and noise pollution.
Though active for less than three years, Airbus claims the project had “successfully achieved its main three goals” of:
- Testing limitations of a serial hybrid-electric propulsion system in a demonstrator aircraft;
- Gaining insight into how the company might continue with its decarbonisation prototypes; and
- “Laying a foundation for the future industry-wide adoption and regulatory acceptance” of alternative-propulsion commercial aircraft.
The E-Fan X was expected to make its maiden flight in 2021. However, chief technology officer (CTO) of Airbus, Grazia Vittadini, said that the joint decision was made [with Rolls-Royce] to pull the project in order to refocus priority towards the current COVID-19 outbreak.
“As with all ground-breaking R&T projects, it’s our duty to constantly evaluate and reprioritise them to ensure alignment with our ambitions,” said Vittadini. “These decisions are not always easy. But they’re undoubtedly necessary to stay the course.
“Although E-Fan X will not take to the skies, I strongly believe that its spirit will live on as we continue on our journey towards climate-neutral flight.”