Solar Impulse spin off to develop electric propulsion technology for the aviation industry

Written by: Tom Austin-Morgan | Published:
H55's electric demonstrator aircraft, aEro1

André Borschberg, one of the designers and pilots of the two Solar Impulse airplanes – the second of which flew around the world using just solar power – has co-founded H55. The spin out company will develop electric propulsion for the aviation industry.

Borschberg said: “I am very excited to be part of this initiative as electric propulsion offers numerous opportunities for future air transportation which is cleaner, quieter, safer and more affordable.”

H55 will focus 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. It’s electric demonstrator aircraft, aEro1, has successfully flown more than 50 hours with a battery endurance exceeding more than one hour.

Commenting on the prospects of electric propulsion, Borschberg believes “electric air transport will undoubtedly disrupt the aviation industry. 15 years ago, when I started with Solar Impulse, electric propulsion was anecdotal. Today is a major development path of every large aeronautical organisation as well as attracting many start-ups and new players. What is science fiction today will be the reality of tomorrow.”

Electric propulsion is very promising. It’s highly efficient and lighter, which are key advantages in the world of transportation. Due to the flexibility and reliability of software, innovative designs such as VTOL are possible.Electric airplanes are therefore cost efficient and considerably less expensive to operate than traditional combustion aircraft. And all with much less noise and an environmental foot print.All combined, electric airplanes offer new possibilities for urban transportation and will play a key role in changing the way people travel.

While H55 represents Solar Impulse’s technological heritage, Bertrand Piccard, initiator, chairman and co-pilot of Solar Impulse, has recently initiated the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions, a platform to federate the main actors in the field of clean technologies with the objective of showcasing profitable and tangible solutions to environmental challenges.


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