There has been a lot of activity in examining hybrid-electric power for the next generation of turboprops. Pratt & Whitney Canada and Widerøe are examining a potential hybrid-electric DeHavilland Dash-8-100, and Embraer is examining using hybrid technology for its E3 turboprop on the drawing board as it returns to its regional roots. Airbus and Daher have a joint venture, while Boeing and NASA also have active projects. Hybrid turboprops are interesting because they can effectively utilize electric power for the cruise portion of flight, augmented by traditional engines for take-off and landing.
While we are not quite there for a hybrid regional aircraft yet in terms of battery and engine technology, progress on both fronts is getting us closer. The next generation of Lithium-Polymer and Lithium-Sulfur batteries will be safer and provide more power density than the current generation of batteries. Add some solar cells on the wings to provide in flight recharging that will add to range, and hybrid powered small turboprops appear feasible.
Reports broken by Bloomberg last week indicate that EASA has identified five issues to resolve with the Boeing 737 MAX, only four of which had previously been publicly discussed. Apart from the MCAS, the EASA identified issues included training, trim wheel force, unreliable AoA sensors and the software issue resulting from a lagging microprocessor, a new issue with the autopilot has also been identified.
Reports indicate that the autopilot does not always disengage when it should, and could interfere with pilot intervention to prevent an aerodynamic stall in certain situations.
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