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

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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