Piaggio wonders about electric and hydrogen-electric planes

Piaggio Aerospace is drawing up plans for a possible hydrogen-electric business jet with an all-new airframe. CTO Antonio Sollo told attendees of Climate Transformed’s green aviation webinar shortly before EBACE 2022 that the company had been evaluating potential battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell propulsion systems for its existing P.180 Avanti Evo turboprop twin. However, the company concluded that it would not be commercially viable to convert this aircraft to such propulsion systems, at least in the short term.

By preparing a technological development plan from 2023 to 2027, Piaggio The engineering team looked at various mid-term options covering hybrid and all-electric versions of the Avanti. He concluded that, based on planned improvements in battery technology, for the so-called eP.180 to be able to carry four passengers and two pilots on missions of approximately 300 nm, the maximum takeoff weight of the aircraft is expected to increase significantly – from 12,100 pounds to 16,200 pounds.

Piaggio (Static AD_8) has also considered how it could adopt a hydrogen electric powertrain for the P.180 by adding liquid hydrogen fuel tanks to the front of the wing in place of the standard engine nacelles. This fuel would run air-cooled fuel cells that would power a pair of electric motors configured in the model’s standard pusher configuration. For the same 300 nm range, the tanks should carry about 56 kg (123 pounds) of fuel.

Sollo confirmed that, all things considered, Piaggio determined it would be more productive to develop an all-new airframe to get the most out of any new propulsion system. Any decision to pursue such a program would depend on the support of the planned new owner of the company, which is currently under administration and put up for sale as part of this process.

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