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H55 teams up with Pratt & Whitney to develop sustainable propulsion technology

Wednesday 25 May 2022

H55 will help supply power to a De Havilland Canada Dash 8-100 flight demonstrator. | © P&W

Pratt & Whitney Canada has selected H55 for its hybrid-electric demonstrator program. The Valais-based start-up will provide the battery pack for the company’s regional hybrid-electric flight demonstrator.

The participation of Solar Impulse spin-off H55 in the hybrid-electric demonstrator program follows Pratt & Whitney’s plans of investing CHF 124 million, with the support of the governments of Quebec and Canada, towards developing sustainable propulsion technologies.

Co-created by André Borschberg, co-founder and pilot of the Solar Impulse project, and based at on the Enerypolis campus in Sion (canton of Valais), H55 focuses on the entire propulsion chain starting from the energy source and its management, right through thrust and power, as well as pilot interface and all control systems.

“Our goal has always been to target regional commuter transportation and with P&WC, there is a perfect fit whereby our core technologies complement each other,” said André Borschberg, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of H55. “Both companies share the same vision as to how hybrid-electric propulsion can offer a range of environmental and economic benefits. Having been selected by P&WC is an important validation that our experience is valued by a reputable industry player. We are excited to be working in Quebec with P&WC and several other industry and research collaborators in bringing our battery pack to the hybrid-electric demonstrator program”.

30% improvement in fuel efficiency and commensurate reduction in CO2

Collins Aerospace and De Havilland Aircraft of Canada are also key technology collaborators in Pratt & Whitney’s demonstrator project. The National Research Council Canada (NRC) and the Innovative Vehicle Institute (IVI) are also supporting the development of some of the component designs and electrical control systems for the project.

Ground testing of the propulsion technology will already start this year, with a planned flight demonstration in 2024. A 30% improvement in fuel efficiency and commensurate reduction in CO2 emissions is targeted, compared to today’s most advanced turboprop engines for regional aircraft.

“We’re delighted to draw from H55’s proven technology in the field of aircraft battery systems,” said Jean Thomassin, executive director new products and services at Pratt & Whitney Canada. “Hybrid-electric technology holds significant potential to boost the efficiency of next generation aircraft propulsion systems, allowing us to set new standards for sustainability for regional and commuter aircraft.”

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