The Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine on the assembly line in Derby, England. WPA Pool. Getty Images

Rolls Joins Siemens, Airbus to Get Hybrid Jet Flying by 2020

The proposed 100-seater could be a big step forward in aviation technology, and a formal announcement could come as soon as this week.

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc is joining Airbus SE and Siemens AG in their quest to develop a 100-seat hybrid electric aircraft, giving the British engine maker a seat at the table of a potential promising aviation technology.

Rolls is tasked with helping develop a 2-megawatt electric drive for the aircraft, according to people with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified as the information is private. A formal accord with Rolls could be announced as soon as Tuesday, they said.

Step by step, Siemens and Airbus are moving closer toward their goal of producing a single-aisle plane with a 20- to 40-megawatt electric drive. Siemens already demonstrated smaller aircraft with 60-kilowatt drive systems at air shows this year. The two companies initially set a goal to make a two-seat electric aircraft, dubbed the e-fan, that would have been used as a pilot trainer and tour operator.

Spokespeople for Siemens, Airbus and Rolls declined to comment.

By Benjamin Katz and Oliver Sachgau

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