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Safran tests hybrid electric propulsion system
Hybrid electric propulsion test. © Remy Bertrand / Safran

Safran tests hybrid electric propulsion system

Safran has completed the first ground test of a distributed propulsion system — a major milestone in its hybrid electric propulsion roadmap.

Safran has passed a major milestone in its hybrid electric propulsion roadmap with the first ground test of a distributed propulsion system. The test run took place at a Safran Helicopter Engines test facility near Pau-Pyrenees Airport, in France.

In a distributed hybrid electric propulsion system for aircraft, a turbo-generator (a gas turbine driving an electrical generator) is coupled to a set of batteries. This system powers multiple electric motors turning propellers to provide propulsion.

The power is efficiently distributed by a new-generation power management system, and the motors are controlled by a fully-integrated smart power electronics assembly

Several operating modes were tested and validated during this first series of tests, with the electric motors powered only by batteries or by a combination of batteries and turbo-generator. The system generated 100kW of electrical power. The company says it aims to test a more powerful system in the near future.

The demonstration was conducted by Safran Helicopter Engines, Safran Electrical & Power and Safran Power Units, in conjunction with Safran Tech, the Group's research & technology center. It was carried out according to Safran's roadmap for the development of hybrid propulsion solutions.

Hybrid propulsion systems are seen playing a key role in new VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) and STOL (short takeoff and landing) aircraft, by enhancing their flight capabilities and expanding their range of missions.

Safran's hybrid electric propulsion roadmap is focused on bringing these technologies to the market by 2025.

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