Airbus' EcoPulse Hybrid-Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight

Collaboration between Daher, Safran, and Airbus Marks a Milestone in Aviation's Decarbonization Efforts
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  • 08:51 AM, December 6, 2023
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Airbus' EcoPulse Hybrid-Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight
EcoPulse Hybrid-Electric Aircraft @Airbus

The EcoPulse hybrid-electric distributed propulsion aircraft demonstrator, a joint venture by Daher, Safran, and Airbus aimed at advancing aviation's decarbonization agenda, has performed its first flight test in hybrid-electric mode.

Taking off from Tarbes Airport on November 29 at 10:32 hrs CET, the EcoPulse demonstrator completed a 100-minute test flight. The aircraft's ePropellers were activated, drawing power from both a battery and a turbogenerator. The flight validated the functionality of key components, including the flight control computer, high-voltage battery pack, distributed electric propulsion, and hybrid electric turbogenerator.

The successful test flight follows extensive ground tests and 10 hours of flight tests with inactive electrical systems.

Unveiled at the 2019 Paris Air Show, EcoPulse is a major collaborative project in Europe focused on aviation decarbonization, supported by CORAC and co-funded by DGAC through France Relance and NextGeneration EU. The demonstrator, based on a Daher TBM aircraft platform, evaluates the operational advantages of integrating hybrid-electric distributed propulsion, with specific emphasis on reducing CO2 emissions and noise levels.

The aircraft is equipped with six integrated electric thrusters (e-Propellers) distributed along the wings, supplied by Safran. Its propulsion system integrates a turbogenerator and a high-energy density battery pack provided by Airbus. The architecture includes a Power Distribution and Rectifier Unit (PDRU) and high-voltage power harnesses by Safran. Airbus's battery pack, rated at 800 Volts DC, can deliver up to 350 kilowatts of power. The demonstrator also benefits from Airbus's aerodynamic and acoustic integration expertise, including the development of a Flight Control Computer to maneuver the aircraft using the ePropellers and synchrophasing to support future acoustic recommendations.

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