Purely electric aircraft are still in their relative infancy. They're closer than you think. Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens are partnering on a hybrid electric aircraft prototype, the E-Fan X, that will prove the mixture of conventional and electric engines will work. The demonstrator will modify a BAe 146 by replacing one of its gas turbine engines with a 2MW electric motor, followed by a second if everything goes smoothly. It's currently slated to fly sometime in 2020.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. said Wednesday it will provide ¥220 billion ($1.94 billion) to its struggling aircraft subsidiary to bolster its capital and help its long-delayed development of a regional passenger jet. Mitsubishi Heavy said it will increase the capital of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. by ¥170 billion and also cancel ¥50 billion of the total debt owed by the subsidiary, as the aircraft company continued to have a negative net worth at the end of fiscal 2017. With the financial support, Mitsubishi Aircraft aims to speed up the development of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first commercial passenger jet developed in Japan, as delivery -- initially scheduled for 2013 -- has been delayed five times due to design modifications. The subsidiary aims to deliver the first MRJ jet to All Nippon Airways Co. by the end of 2020. The development costs for the MRJ have risen fourfold from the initial estimate to ¥600 billion, and could also balloon to ¥800 billion, according to company sources.
The Airlander 10 just completed its second test flight, and it didn't end well. During a flight Wednesday, world's longest aircraft ran into some issues upon landing and suffered damage to its cockpit after a nosedive. Hybrid Aircraft Vehicles, the company that developed the Airlander, told the BBC that the flight crew were all "safe and well," and "the only issue was when it landed." One witness claimed to have seen a line hanging down from the Airlander hit a telephone pole during the flight, though HAV denied it. The 302-foot-long aircraft was originally designed for the U.S. military, according to BBC.
The flying car remains among those technologies that has always remained about ten years away. Or maybe just a year, if you believe the CEO of Airbus. "One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground," said Tom Enders, the chief executive of aerospace company Airbus, best known for making jet airliners. Enders was speaking at the DLD tech conference in Munich on Monday, where he teased that his company foresees having a working prototype for an autonomous flying car by the end of 2017. "We are in an experimentation phase, we take this development very seriously," he said, according to a report from Reuters.
Orix Corp. said Wednesday it will buy a 30 percent stake in aircraft leasing firm Avolon Holdings Ltd. from China's HNA Group Co. Ltd. for $2.2 billion. The acquisition is aimed at boosting its presence in the global aircraft leasing market, where demand is expected to grow on the back of a rise in low-cost carriers and passenger traffic, it said in a statement. Orix will buy the stake through its fully owned aircraft leasing unit, Orix Aviation Systems Ltd. The transaction is expected to be completed by November, pending regulatory approvals, Orix said. Avolon is owned by Bohai Capital, which is controlled by HNA.