As permanent solutions to decarbonizing flight continue to mature, different hybrid models are emerging to fill the gap. The latest arrives courtesy of a partnership between Magnix, the Washington state builder of electric aviation drives, and Desaer, a Brazillian aviation firm.
The two companies are combining to build a hybrid version of Desaer’s ATL-100, a 19-seat turboprop commuter plane. The new iteration, called the ATL-100H, will add two 350-kW Magni350 electric propulsion units (motor plus prop assembly) situated to the outside of the standard turboprops mounted on the wings. The electric motors will provide strategic boost to reduce fuel use and carbon emissions while retaining ideal range—as a bonus, they’ll increase redundancy and therefore safety.
“The electric motors play the main role during take-off and climb, allowing the engine to operate in a lower consumption rate during those phases,” Evandro Fernandes Fileno, Desaer’s executive director, explained to Robb Report. “Depending on the cruise flight level, if battery energy is still available, the Magni350 EPUs will continue to operate, also allowing for fuel savings during cruise.”
The standard ATL-100, with its twin 1,000-hp turboprops, has a published range of 2,000 miles, and according to Magnix, the hybrid version should produce fuel savings of 25 to 40 percent. A direct relation between fuel savings and range is fuzzy, but in theory, the savings would put the hybrid’s range at somewhere between 2,500 and 2,800 miles with a top speed of roughly 231 knots.
As Fileno points out, total range can be misleading, depending on the mission of any individual flight: “On a short-range flight you have the EPUs running throughout the entire flight.”
Of course, the ATL-100 is still a commercial aircraft, but if last weekend’s Super Bowl ads are any indication, the age of all-electric dominance in cars has arrived. If the ATL-100H delivers on its promises, others will take note of the technology and arrange similar solutions will make their way into business aircraft segment.