EcoPulse aircraft first hybrid-electric flight

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The EcoPulse, a collaborative project developed by Daher, Safran, and Airbus to advance aviation’s decarbonization efforts, has successfully completed its maiden flight test in hybrid-electric mode.

The demonstrator, featuring ePropellers powered by a battery and a turbogenerator, took off from Tarbes Airport on November 29 for a 100-minute test flight.

During the flight, the electric propellers were activated, and the crew verified the functionality of key components, including the flight control computer, high-voltage battery pack, distributed electric propulsion, and hybrid electric turbogenerator.

The achievement represents a culmination of various technical milestones, including extensive ground tests and 10 hours of flight tests without the electrical system active.

Safran’s Eric Dalbiès emphasized the significance of confirming the disruptive propulsion system’s effectiveness in flight, paving the way for more sustainable aviation.

Airbus’s Sabine Klauke highlighted the importance of high-energy density batteries in reducing carbon emissions and commended projects like EcoPulse for accelerating progress in electric and hybrid electric flight.

Pascal Laguerre, Chief Technology Officer at Daher, emphasized the invaluable data the flight campaign would provide on onboard technologies such as distributed propulsion, high-voltage batteries, and hybrid-electric propulsion.

EcoPulse, unveiled at the 2019 Paris Air Show, is a key collaborative effort in Europe for aviation decarbonization, supported by CORAC and co-funded by DGAC through France Relance and NextGeneration EU.

The demonstrator aims to assess the operational advantages of hybrid-electric distributed propulsion, focusing on reducing CO2 emissions and noise levels.

The disruptive propulsion architecture allows a single electrical source to power multiple electric motors distributed throughout the aircraft.

Built on a Daher TBM aircraft platform, EcoPulse features six integrated electric thrusters distributed along the wings.

Its propulsion system combines a turbogenerator, driven by a gas turbine, and a high-energy density battery pack.

The Power Distribution and Rectifier Unit, along with high-voltage power harnesses, are provided by Safran, while the Airbus-designed battery pack delivers up to 350 kilowatts of power.

Airbus’s expertise extends to aerodynamic and acoustic integration, including the development of the Flight Control Computer for aircraft maneuvers and synchrophasing to support future acoustic recommendations.