This Hybrid Plane Makes Use of New Technology to Improve Performance—and Lower Emissions

Hybrid Plane
The ATL-100 of Desaer is powered by a Magnix electric motor for takeoff and a gas engine for flight. The hybrid system increases range while decreasing fuel consumption.

As permanent solutions for decarbonizing aviation become more developed, several hybrid models are emerging to fill the void. The latest is the result of a collaboration between Magnix, a Washington-based manufacturer of electric aviation drives, and Desai, a Brazilian aviation company.

The two businesses are collaborating on the development of a hybrid version of Desaer’s ATL-100, a 19-seat turboprop commuter jet. The ATL-100H will include two 350-kW Magni350 electric propulsion units (motor plus prop assembly) positioned on the exterior of the normal turboprops mounted on the wings. The electric motors will provide a strategic boost to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions while maintaining optimal range; as an added bonus, they will increase redundancy and thus safety.

“The electric motors play the key role during take-off and climb, allowing the engine to function at a lower consumption rate during those stages,” Desaer executive director Evandro Fernandes Fileno told Robb Report. “Depending on the cruise flight level, the Magni350 EPUs will continue to operate if battery energy is still available, providing for fuel savings during the cruise.”

Hybrid Tech

The normal ATL-100, with its twin 1,000-hp turboprops, has a reported range of 2,000 miles, and Magnix estimates that the hybrid version will save 25 to 40% on fuel. The actual relationship between fuel savings and range is hazy, but in principle, the savings would place the hybrid’s range between 2,500 and 2,800 miles, with a top speed of about 231 knots.

Total range, as Fileno points out, can be deceiving depending on the goal of any given aircraft: “On a short-range flight, you have the EPUs functioning throughout the flight.”

Of course, the ATL-100 remains a commercial aircraft, but if last weekend’s Super Bowl commercials are any indicator, the age of all-electric domination in automobiles has here. If the ATL-100H lives up to its promises, others will take note of the technology and develop similar solutions for the business aircraft segment.

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