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.