(Image courtesy: Honeywell International, Inc.)

Honeywell targets urban air mobility market with new hybrid turboshaft engine

Looking to expand its offerings for urban air mobility solutions, Honeywell International, Inc. of Charlotte, North Carolina has developed a new hybrid-electric turbogenerator prototype based on its existing HTS900 turboshaft engine.

Supplementing the lightweight HTS900 turboshaft are two compact, high-power density generators putting out 200 kilowatts each. According to Honeywell, the combined output of the two generators would be enough to power 40 average homes running air conditioners at full blast. The prototype is designed to operate on bio-derived jet fuel and can be used to power high-capacity batteries of motors for a distributed propulsion system.

Learn more about distributed and hybrid-electric propulsion systems in So You Want to Design Engines: UAV Propulsion Systems


Conventional aircraft use fuel-burning engines to mechanically turn rotors, propellers or fans. But many new aircraft designs incorporate multiple electric motors, which can be tilted or turned off for vertical takeoff and horizontal flight. Aircraft designers believe this could usher in a new era of quiet, efficient, point-to-point aviation. A single Honeywell turbogenerator could power multiple electric motors located anywhere on an aircraft.

The company's solutions deliver highly reliable electric current from five to 200 kilowatts in constant speed, variable frequency and direct current configurations. Honeywell is now testing the aerospace industry's first one-megawatt generator.

"This redefines powered flight by providing electricity to spare in a safe, light package built for aviation," says Bryan Wood, senior director of Honeywell's hybrid-electric and electric propulsion programs. "As the urban air mobility segment grows, Honeywell is providing safe, reliable propulsion solutions as well as a host of other aviation technologies that are ready to install today on next-generation vehicles."

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The HTS900, already well known for its low-specific fuel consumption (SFC) and reliable “hot and high” performance, utilizes a dual-channel full authority digital engine control (FADEC) system for reduced pilot workload, easier engine troubleshooting, and on-demand maintenance scheduling. With the two generators, it will be able to produce 30- to 50-percent fewer carbon emissions than the traditional HTS900 engine.



Honeywell will unveil the turbogenerator prototype on March 5 at the HAI HELI-EXPO in Atlanta.


The push for urban air mobility

Honeywell has rapidly expanded its presence in urban air mobility, offering avionics, propulsion, flight controls, navigation, collision avoidance, power generation, actuation, logistics, satellite communication and connectivity technologies to companies developing new aircraft.

In January the company announced its work with Pipistrel Vertical Solutions to develop systems for a vertical takeoff and landing air vehicle that will eventually be capable of fully autonomous flight.


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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.

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