Rolls-Royce is to develop turbogenerator technology which includes a new small engine designed for hybrid-electric applications.

The system will be an on-board power source with scalable power and will complement the Rolls-Royce Electrical propulsion portfolio, enabling extended range on sustainable aviation fuels, and later as it becomes available through hydrogen combustion.

Current battery technology means all-electric propulsion will enable eVTOL and fixed wing commuter aircraft for short flights in and between cities and island-hopping in locations like Norway and the Scottish Isles.

By developing turbogenerator technology, power range is scaled between 500-1200 kW to open up longer routes that electric battery powered aircraft can also support.

Rolls-Royce experts in Germany, Norway and Hungary are developing the turbogenerator design and working on its system integration, focussing on smart power distribution during flight.

The turbogenerator will recharge batteries after take-off or power the propellers directly, enabling aircraft to switch between power sources in flight, with research and development of this technology being part funded by the German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

Rolls Royce Electrical president Rob Watson said: “Rolls-Royce will be the leading provider of all-electric and hybrid-electric power and propulsion systems for advanced air mobility (AAM) and will scale this technology over time to larger platforms.

“I would like to thank the German Government for their support. As part of our strategy, we offer a complete sustainable solution for our customers, which means extending routes that electric flight can support through our turbogenerator technology.

“This will advance hybrid-electric flight and mean more passengers will be able to travel further on low to net zero emissions aircraft. Rolls-Royce is also set to build on its existing network to offer maintenance services for electrical systems.

“Furthermore, Rolls-Royce Power Systems is able to offer MTU-brand microgrid solutions to support fast-charging of electric aircraft and deliver reliable, cost-effective, climate friendly and sustainable power to vertiports.”

Last year, Rolls-Royce announced a pathway to net zero carbon emissions and its electrical technology is one way in which the company is helping decarbonise critical parts of the global economy. Rolls-Royce is committed to ensuring its new products will be compatible with net zero operation by 2030 and all its products will be compatible with net zero by 2050.

In February, Rolls-Royce and Roland Berger released a market study into the potential of the AAM Market for the APAC region, which includes Australia, China, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand.

A few days previously, Rolls-Royce said it would collaborate on the development of a planned network of vertiports with Luxaviation Group, which will include electrification and digital solutions, and maintenance support services.