Official Student Branch

Dr John Olsen: Hybrid-Electric Aircraft

Hybrid-electric aircraft

In this presentation, Dr Olsen will argue that it ought to be possible to reduce the fuel consumption of an aircraft by hybridizing the powertrain. The strategy is to use a downsized internal combustion engine to provide the power required for cruise. Stored electrical energy is transferred to a motor/generator arranged in a parallel topology with the internal combustion engine to provide the excess power required for climb/manoeuvre. As the weight of the hybrid powered aircraft is practically identical to a conventionally powered aircraft, the power required is the same. Various energy harvesting strategies are examined which are necessary to keep the stored electrical energy at a sufficient level.


Dr John Olsen started out as an apprentice fitter and machinist in the NSW coal mining industry. He worked in this industry for 14 years. He received his degree in Mechanical Engineering (Hons) from the University of Newcastle in 1996 and his PhD in the Control of Turbulent Jets also from the University of Newcastle in 2001. He has been an academic at the University of New South Wales since 2002, lecturing in thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, internal combustion engines, flight propulsion & flight performance and to a lesser extent, in aerospace design. He has a wide range of research interests including simulation and the application of both first and second law of thermodynamics to engines, vehicles, power stations and co/tri generation plants and most importantly aircraft. He has also been interested biodiesel production and alternative fuels.
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