Russia Aims to Debut on the eVTOL Market, Unveils Future Hybrid Aircraft Engine

Russia presented several of its new aircraft engines, at the Maks International Aviation and Space Salon 7 photos
Photo: Rostec
VK-650V engine presentationHybrid Engine Mock-upAircraft engineMAKS 2021PD-8 enginePD-8 engine
The recent MAKS-2021 International Aviation and Space Salon was a very important event for the Russian aviation. Not only did it mark the official unveiling of the much-anticipated Checkmate, but it was also the perfect setting for showcasing the country’s advancements in aircraft engine development.
This year’s edition of the MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon, which took place in Zhukovsky, near Moscow, was a special one, to say the least. The next-generation military aircraft, Checkmate, was officially presented for the first time. Rosboronexport (Russia’s state agency for military-related exports) claimed that it has signed contracts worth over $1 billion, with international customers.

But another important revelation was the fact that Russia is planning to soon enter the eVTOL market, as well as dabbling into sustainable aviation technologies.

One of the innovations that took center stage at MAKS was a mock-up of the new hybrid aircraft engine. Based on another new engine, the VK-650V, this hybrid version was specifically designed for next-generation unmanned aircraft with three propellers. The mock-up consisted of a gas turbine engine, electric motors, power electronics units, an electric generator and a battery pack.

According to a recent Rostec (the state’s military-industrial complex) announcement, the plan is to complete the first demonstrator next year, with a 150 kW output, followed by the 500 kW version, in 2023. This hybrid system would not only help cut CO2 emissions, but also increase thrust-to-weight ratio and improve performance.

Some of the future applications for it include light multipurpose helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles with a takeoff weight between 2–8 tons, air taxis and other VTOL models. The intention is to also develop a hybrid version for maritime application, with a 200-250 kW output.

In addition to that, the United Engine Corporation of Rostec also announced the launch of an innovative program that will explore 2 technologies for hydrogen-powered engines. The first one is based on the direct combustion of hydrogen, while the other will focus on fuel cells.

Hot topics for quite a while in the U.S. and European aviation industries, hybrid propulsion and hydrogen fuel cells haven’t really come up until now in Russia’s public take on aviation. It will be interesting to see if and how it’s going to catch up.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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