Aircraft need to 'go green', but they can't match the range of hybrids

Enter the turboprop.
Christopher McFadden

In recent news, a company called Desaer has unveiled their new hybrid-electric aircraft, the ATL-100H. However, unlike other proposals in recent years which are all-electric, this one mixes combustion-engined turboprops with electrical motors. 

While all-electric is erroneously considered the "greenest" way to go, they do suffer from a limited range. Combustion engines, on the other hand, have less of a problem in this case.

The idea to combine the best of both in this new hybrid aircraft could be the only realistic solution to reducing emissions produced from air travel in the not too distant future. To this end, Brazilian company Dasear has developed their new ATL-100H to use both electric motors and more conventional turboprop engines all in one aircraft. 

Based on the company's non-electric ATL-100, the proposed aircraft features a cabin that can be configured for either cargo or passengers. Other variants include an option that can accommodate 19 passengers plus two crew members as well.

The ATL-100 was first announced in 2020 and is a twin-turboprop, high-wing, fixed tricycle landing gear, utility aircraft currently under development that is scheduled for commercial delivery within the next three years or so.  This aircraft comes in a few variants able to carry either 19 passengers or a dozen paratroops, or three LD3 containers.

The ATL-100H will use some pretty powerful electric engines

Unlike the ATL-100 which features just two 1,000-shaft-horsepower turboprop engines (one on each wing), the ATL-100H will add two of Mannix's magni350 electric propulsion units to the mix too. 

These impressive engines weigh 246lbs (11.5-kg) apiece and incorporate a 350-kW electric motor that puts out 1,610 Nm (1,188 ft-lb) of maximum continuous torque. 

These engines will provide most of the heavy lifting during takeoff and climbing, reducing the need to consume fuel from the turboprops during this critical, and usually power-hungry, phase of any flight. Once the aircraft reaches cruising altitude, the electric engines will cut in again to lighten the thrust-load of the turboprops, further reducing fuel consumption. 

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For shorter-range trips, the motors will still help out in that phase, too. For longer flights, the two engines are capable of providing all of the required cruising power on their own.

No range figures have been published yet for the ATL-100H, but magniX has stated that, depending on the distance, the addition of the electric motors should allow the aircraft to use 25 to 40 percent less fuel than if it were solely turboprop-powered. Not too shabby.

The use of electrical engines during takeoff and climb should also help reduce the noise pollution generated by most conventional aircraft too. It will also reduce the wear and tear on the turboprops, further reducing the running costs from things like preventative and reactive maintenance over the long term. 

"The ATL-100H and future versions of the aircraft will enable customers and operators to achieve carbon emission reduction targets while maintaining the low operating costs offered by DESAER's ATL family of aircraft," said Desaer's CEO Evandro Fileno

At present, little other information is available, and no estimated date of production has been announced. 

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