Daher, Airbus, and Safran announced a collaborative partnership at the Paris Air Show to design and develop EcoPulse, a wing-mounted distributed hybrid-propulsion demonstrator based on Daher’s TBM platform.
The partnership will leverage each of the companies’ strengths to develop the hybrid-propulsion demonstrator, which is slated for a first test flight in 2022. Safran will use its technology as a world-class aerospace industry engine manufacturer to develop the propulsion system. As one of the top aircraft integrators in the world, Airbus has charge of aerodynamic optimization of the propulsion system, installation of high-energy-density batteries, and their use to power the aircraft. Finally, operations such as component and systems installation, flight testing, regulatory approvals, and construction will all be handled by Daher.
Further, all three companies are based in France, which will better facilitate the collaboration on this demonstrator project. A small-scale model and animated videos of the aircraft were on display at the Paris Air Show from June 17 to June 23, and showed the three small, evenly-spaced electric motors and propellers on the leading edge of each wing. The hybrid-electric engines will replace the previously used Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 on the TBM platform, and have the potential to create new uses for air transportation.
The EcoPulse wing will be an integration of cutting-edge technology poised to reduce drag, emissions, and noise pollution. Aboard the wing will be a turbogenerator, an electric power management system, and integrated electric thrusters called e-Propellors. While technical details and performance metrics have not yet been published, the hybrid-electric system could best be used during taxi, while also being charged during high-power flight phases such as takeoff when the turbogenerator would typically be running.
Daher Senior VP of Aerospace and Defense Business, Nicolas Orance, has emphasized their determination to reduce environmental impacts of this aircraft and in the French aircraft industry as a whole. The French Civil Aviation Authority has supported the partnership, and is working in tandem with the French Civil Aviation Research Council to kickstart the demonstrator project.
Why it’s important: The trend toward more energy efficient engineering solutions in the aerospace industry bode well for the future of aviation. Not only will this partnership demonstrate the French companies’ ability to lower their environmental impact, but it will also help set the stage for future applications of hybrid-electric systems, especially in the urban aviation industry where short-range missions could be most benefited by the attributes of electric propulsion.
Sources // Daher Youtube channel; AINonline