Boeing in Process of Developing Hybrid Airplane

Wednesday, Aug 4, 2010  |  Updated 3:09 PM CDT
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Boeing in Process of Developing Hybrid Airplane

Boeing Research & Technology

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It appears the hybrid-electric vehicle trend is reaching new heights.

Chicago-based Boeing aircraft is working on designs for a new type of jet that runs on a mix of battery power and jet fuel. Their conceptual design was all-the-buzz at the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin this weekend.

Their design is called the SUGAR Volt, and it would use a mix of turbine engines and electric motors to run and cool the plane. Jet fuel would help get the plane off the ground – when the most thrust is needed – but then the airplane would switch to electric power to cruise.

The SUGAR Volt design was completed after an 18-month long study, and Boeing's findings have been submitted to NASA, who wants to reduce fuel burn by 70 percent.

"Hybrid electric engine technology is a clear winner because it could improve performance in relation to all of NASA's goals," Marty Bradley of the Subsonic Ultra-Green Aircraft Research team said in a press release.

Boeing's research team evaluated noise, emissions, takeoff length, fuel burn and energy use in their development of the SUGAR Volt.

Bradley stressed that battery technology needs improvement before its ready to be used in aviation, but a commercial version of the plane could be ready as early as 2035.

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