URBAN and regional aircraft powered by batteries and/or hydrogen moved a step closer following the signing this week of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between industrial heavyweights Rolls-Royce and Hyundai.

Rolls-Royce, a leading supplier of aircraft engines to the international aviation sector, and Hyundai, a leader in the development of hydrogen powertrains in motor vehicles, agreed to collaborate on the decarbonisation of aviation, signing the historic MOU at the recent Farnborough Air Show in the UK.

The two companies said they plan to collaborate on bringing all-electric propulsion and hydrogen fuel cell technology to the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) market with a focus on urban and regional markets.

The partnership will leverage Rolls-Royce’s aviation and certification capabilities and Hyundai Motor Group’s hydrogen fuel cell technologies and industrialisation capability.

With growing emphasis on reducing fossil-fuel-based transportation and advancing sustainable aviation, both companies are well placed to lead the way in the AAM market. Both say they have a shared vision of utilising new technology propulsion solutions in the aviation sector.

The MOU between Rolls-Royce and Hyundai Motor Group includes five strategic aims:

  1. Collaborating on the technology development and requirements of power and propulsion systems for Hyundai’s Advanced Air Mobility Division.

  2. Collaborating on the industrialisation of Rolls-Royce power and propulsion systems for the Advanced Air Mobility market.

  3. Development of electric propulsion systems based on hydrogen fuel cells as an energy source for Hyundai’s Regional Air Mobility (RAM) platforms.

  4. Collaborating to bring to market a joint fuel-cell electric propulsion system to the wider AAM market.

  5. Delivering a joint fuel-cell electric aircraft demonstration by 2025.

Underlining the importance of the MOU signing, the ceremony took place at Hyundai’s Supernal booth at Farnborough Air Show and was attended by numerous dignitaries including Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce; Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology and Strategy Officer; Rob Watson, President of Rolls-Royce Electrical; Euisun Chung, Executive Chair of Hyundai Motor Group; Jaiwon Shin, President and head of AAM Division of Hyundai Motor Group; and Jaeyong Song, Vice President of AAM Division of Hyundai Motor Group.

“We are pleased to partner with Rolls-Royce to draw upon their aviation and certification expertise to accelerate the development of hydrogen fuel-cell propulsion systems,” said Mr Shin.

“Hyundai has successfully delivered hydrogen fuel cell systems to the global automotive market and is now exploring the feasibility of electric and hydrogen propulsion technologies for aerospace integration.

“We believe this to be the key technology to support the global aviation industry’s goal to fly net zero carbon by 2050.”

A hydrogen fuel cell system used in an all-electric aircraft propulsion system is zero-emission, silent and delivers a reliable on-board power source that enables scalability in power offerings as well as long distance flight range.

Hyundai will work with Rolls-Royce to bring hydrogen fuel cells, storage systems and infrastructure to the aerospace markets, and advance this technology into Hyundai’s regional aviation vehicles and Rolls-Royce all-electric and hybrid-electric propulsion system offerings.

At the signing, Rolls-Royce Electrical president Rob Watson said: “We are delighted to partner with Hyundai Motor Group which provides a valuable opportunity to leverage and build on the capabilities each company brings from the aerospace and automotive sectors.

“The Advanced Air Mobility Market offers great commercial potential, and this collaboration supports our joint ambitions to lead the way in the Advanced Air Mobility Market. It is also another demonstration of Rolls-Royce’s role in delivering the solutions that will enable passengers to travel sustainably and help deliver net zero carbon by 2050.”


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