Press releases

AVIO AERO and Finmeccanica - Selex ES team up to develop hybrid engines for Unmanned Aircraft


Rivalta di Torino (Italy), 20 October 2015 –Avio Aero, a GE Aviation business, has teamed up with Finmeccanica - Selex ES to develop a hybrid electric propulsion system for use on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The partnership is part of a € 5 million research project called “Hybrid energy management for aeronautical applications” financed through the framework research agreement between the Puglia regional government and the Italian Ministry for Universities and Research. The implementing body is the Puglia Aerospace Technology District (DTA).

The two-year project led by Avio Aero with the participation of the Polytechnic University of Bari, the University of Salento and the CNR (National Research Council) of Messina has the goal of studying a hybrid propulsion architecture based on the combination of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor and developing the relevant enabling technologies. This will enable the traditional propulsion architecture of a UAV to be compared with one or more hybrid architectures in terms of specific consumption, weight and performance. For this purpose, Avio Aero will use the Falco EVO unmanned aircraft system built by Finmeccanica - Selex ES as the reference platform.

The Falco EVO is an upgrade of the original Falco and is compatible with the main flight and ground components of its forerunner. It is a remotely piloted aircraft system capable of performing surveillance missions with a duration of up to 20 hours. An outstanding product in the UAV segment, the Falco EVO can carry a payload of up to 100 kg, fly at an altitude of 6,000 meters and conduct missions with an operating range of more than 200 km in line of sight.

“This Italian project marks a major step forward for Avio Aero in the UAV sector, a market segment with outstanding growth prospects where we can offer innovative technologies based on our continuous investments in R&D,” commented Paolo Salvetti, Vice President Sales Advanced Systems & UAV at Avio Aero. “This goal has been achieved thanks to the work of our engineers at the Energy Factory in Bari, the multidisciplinary laboratory that was set up in 2010 in cooperation with the Polytechnic University of Bari. A successful model of a partnership between the worlds of business and university, it fits in with Avio Aero’s established network of relationships with national institutions including the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, development and regional research support agencies, and the Technology Districts, especially in Piedmont, Campania and Puglia.”

“The project led by our partner Avio Aero is part of the initiatives and programs launched by the District to support new automation technologies, while the Puglia aerospace system – and in particular Taranto-Grottaglie airport – offers appropriate infrastructure for development and testing,” said Giuseppe Acierno, Chairman of the Aerospace Technology District.


Avio Aero is a business unit of GE Aviation specializing in the design, production and maintenance of components and systems for the civil and military aeronautical industry. It is the center of excellence for the entire General Electric group in the field of mechanical power transmissions and low-pressure turbines. In Italy it has more than 4,000 employees working at its headquarters in Rivalta di Torino, where the largest manufacturing facility is also located, and at its factories in Brindisi and Pomigliano d’Arco (Naples). Abroad it has a major facility in Poland. Since 1908 the company has had a pioneering role in responding to numerous technological challenges. As a result of its continuous R&D investments and an established international network of relationships with leading universities and research centers, Avio Aero has acquired a level of technological and manufacturing excellence that is recognized the world over. Its outstanding reputation is further endorsed by partnerships with leading global players in the aeronautical industry.

INFORMATION on Finmeccanica - Selex ES

Finmeccanica - Selex Es is a global provider of cutting-edge technologies, systems, products and solutions meeting the growing demand for advanced capabilities in the fields of national security and defense and in the management of complex civil infrastructures. With a workforce of almost 17,000 people, Finmeccanica - Selex ES is headquartered in Italy and the UK and has a strong industrial presence in the USA, Germany, Turkey, Romania, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and India. In the avionics sector Selex ES is the only European company capable of providing a complete unmanned solution for tactical ISTAR operations including the platform, sensors, mission system, training and ground control. At the same time the company has gained significant expertise in the field of manned aerial surveillance to fully meet the strictest needs of situational awareness.