Airbus, Safran and Daher have developed a business aircraft with hybrid-electric propulsion and scheduled the demo model’s maiden flight to take place in three years. This consortium is taking a different path than Ampaire with its hybrid aircraft though.
Just days after the Californian company Ampaire reported their first order and a few weeks after the maiden flight of its hybrid aircraft, Airbus, Safran and Daher are now presenting a new project. The three French companies announced the development of the “EcoPulse” at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget.
The partners have formulated several objectives for the EcoPulse project. They aim to test the reliability and everyday utility of the drive concept, as well as the handling of the more massive batteries and the new engines – the know-how for the system integration of such a type of drive is still lacking. Last but not least, the companies want to lay the foundation for greener aviation. “Reducing the impact of aviation on the environment is a high priority for the entire aviation industry,” said Nicolas Orance, Senior Vice President of the Business Unit Aerospace and Defense at Daher in Le Bourget.
The approach of the three established aviation groups is different from that of Californian company Ampaire, which is developing the 337, the largest hybrid aircraft to date. The Americans have converted an existing Cessna 337 with a hybrid drive so that the battery-operated electric motor replaces a combustion engine of the original twin-engine configuration of the aircraft. The resulting system is a “parallel hybrid”.
The first drawings of the EcoPulse show a different concept. The combustion engine drives the main rotor on the fuselage of the aircraft. The electric motors drive six smaller propellers attached to the wings – three on each side. The French hybrid plane is based on a single-engine aircraft from Daher’s TBM series. Airbus is to integrate the batteries and revise the aerodynamics, while Safran is responsible for developing the hybrid system.