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Exciting news about UTAP's first ever project: Hybrid-Electric Demo propulsion

Dal Kikin
March 27, 2019

The newly formed United Technologies’ Advanced Projects (UTAP) division unveiled its initial hybrid-electric demonstration aircraft, the Project 804, to the public for the first time. As a test aircraft, the company has selected a used Bombardier Dash 8-100, in which the turboprop drive on the right side replaced by a hybrid-electric drive. The new drive alone should bring a power of 1 megawatt. It is optimized for cruising and supported by a battery-powered electric motor during take-off and ascent.

US industrial giant United Technologies has formed a subsidiary called United Technologies' Advanced Projects (UTAP), which aims to innovate faster than the Group has previously been able to do. One of the first UTAP projects deals with the implementation of a hybrid electric drive for regional aircraft. The project, named Project 804 (P804), aims to blow up a plane with this drive within three years. Despite the high number of projects Project 804 is the first project of the company. The number 804 chosen because it represents the distance (in miles) between the two corporate sites in Montreal, Canada, and Rockford, Illinois.

While the new drivetrain will increase the aircraft's operating empty mass, in return, the tank capacity can be reduced by 50 %, according to the designers of the new system. According to UTAP scientists, the range of the aircraft will be around 600 nautical miles (1,111 km). Although this is less than the range of the aircraft today (1,000 nm / 1,852 km), but since most regional flights are on average shorter than 500 nautical miles (926 km), the mixed cost makes sense both from a technical and from a business point of view so Jean Thomassin and Greg Winn, the directors of Project 804.

UTAP estimates that the experimental aircraft consumes approximately 30 % less fuel than the previous aircraft in a typical one-hour flight of a regional aircraft. The batteries and drive control of the new system must be housed in the aircraft cabin; all other system components fit into a modified Dash 8 engine nacelle. 

On top of enabling hybrid propulsion systems in aviation, P804 will accelerate the sub-systems and components technology readiness to support faster time to market of new technologies. Examples range from high voltage distribution systems, high-power density and efficiency motors and generators, general aviation turboprop and helicopter engines to high-efficiency auxiliary power units enabling their in-flight usage. UTAP not only develops the system for new aircraft designs but also considers it as a retrofit kit to existing aircraft can be installed.

@Images by United Technologies Advanced Projects