Airbus, Daher and Safran announced their collaboration at the 2019 Paris Air Show, which is part of their innovation strategy. This collaboration aims to develop EcoPulseTM a hybrid propulsion aircraft demonstrator, with the support of CORAC (Council for Civil Aeronautics Research).
The demonstrator has already passed the Preliminary Design Review, a key first step in demonstrating the feasibility of the project and setting the architecture for a first flight in 2022.
Unveiled in 2019 at the Paris Air Show, this demonstrator with its innovative architecture represents a major collaborative project for the French aeronautics industry, supported by the French government’s stimulus plan. In keeping with the sustainable and decarbonization trend in air transport by 2050, this project lays the groundwork for light aircraft for the end of the decade.
“Reducing the environmental impact of aircraft is a concern for the entire sector. We are therefore enthusiastic and determined to participate in this unique partnership with Airbus and Safran to meet this ambitious challenge initiated by CORAC. We are determined to make it a distinctive element of the French aeronautics industry and are convinced that the players in the sector need to unite around it,” explains Nicolas Orance, SVP Aerospace and Defense BU at Daher.
What happens after the Preliminary Design Review:
After more than a year of development work based on a light aircraft platform supplied by Daher, EcoPulseTM has passed the Preliminary Design Review stage, validating and freezing the constructive principles of the demonstrator and its compatibility in terms of systems and safety with the aircraft’s use. The project is now in the detailed design phase for the systems supplied by Safran and Airbus, in parallel with the assembly of the prototype.
Safran will supply the entire EcoPulseTM distributed hybrid propulsion system (excluding batteries), consisting of a turbogenerator (turbine combined with an electric generator), an electric power management system and integrated electric propellers, including the electric motors and propellers. The electric thrusters will be integrated on the EcoPulseTM wing and will provide propulsive effort while offering aerodynamic gains (reduced wing area and marginal vortices at the wing tips, and therefore drag).
“Safran has developed a technology roadmap for the integration of electric thrusters on aircraft. EcoPulseTM is an excellent opportunity to evaluate and determine the characteristics expected by this market, particularly in the context of new hybrid aircraft projects. Safran’s goal is to be the leader in these propulsion systems by 2025,” said Stéphane Cueille, Safran’s Vice President, R&T and Innovation.
Airbus will be involved in the aerodynamic modeling of the demonstrator, both to support configuration choices and to help develop control laws. All of these elements should make it possible to establish the benefits of distributed propulsion, and provide the basis, in terms of methods, tools and results, for the design of optimized hybrid distributed propulsion aircraft.
“This distributed hybrid propulsion demonstrator is a very important step to prepare the certification standards for a more electric aircraft. It also allows us to improve our simulation models to consider using them on larger aircraft,” confirms Jean-Brice Dumont, EVP Engineering at Airbus.
The wind tunnel tests were successfully completed on June 16, 2021 at Airbus UK’s Filton facility. In the coming months, Airbus, Daher and Safran will work on the Critical Design Review (CDR), prior to the start of production of the EcoPulseTM demonstrator and before ground tests in early 2022.
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