TP Hybrid Electric Powertrain for Regional Airliners Completes Ground Testing at Safran

TP Hybrid Electric Powertrain for Regional Airliners Completes Ground Testing at Safran
Courtesy of Safran

Safran this week completed ground tests with a “more electric” variant of its Tech TP turboprop technology demonstrator. The project, which is exploring new propulsion options for future regional fixed-wing aircraft, is being led by the French aerospace group's helicopter engines division and is based on its Ardiden-3 family of turboshaft engines for super-midsize rotorcraft.

The ground testing at Safran’s Tarnos site in France is part of the European Union-funded Clean Sky program to achieve net zero carbon emissions in aviation. Safran's TP Tech engine incorporates technologies from the Achieve project, which is focused on “advanced mechatronics devices for a novel turboprop electric starter-generator and health monitoring system.”

According to the company, the technology demonstrator includes a more powerful electrical motor generator that is integrated with the Tech TP propeller and accessory gearbox. This device comprises an electric motor, an electronic power converter, and associated controllers.

The main objective is to drive the propeller electrically, enabling new operating modes such as taxiing and inflight auxiliary power, without using power directly from the aircraft’s main turbine engines. This is expected to deliver an 18 percent cut in fuel consumption and reduced CO2 emissions.

Projections for the TP Tech engine’s performance are based on an analysis conducted by Piaggio Aerospace using a virtual testbed for a 19-seat commuter airliner. The intention is that it would be operated using an updated throttle lever design integrated with the full authority digital engine and propeller control computer.

“Leveraging hybrid-electric technologies is an important pillar in our strategy to reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions,” commented Didier Nicoud, executive v-p for engineering with Safran Helicopter Engines. “Achieve Tech TP also paves the way for a new Clean Aviation demonstrator managed by the HEART [Hybrid-Electric propulsion system for regional Aircraft] consortium. By 2025, HEART, bringing together 38 partners, with Safran Helicopter Engines as a technical coordinator, plans to ground test a hybrid electric propulsion system intended for regional turboprop aircraft.”

Achieve is being coordinated by the UK’s University of Nottingham and supported by Nema and Power System Technology. The project involves more than 20 partners in total.

Safran Electrical & Power division is developing the EngineUS family of electric propulsion systems for several other new aircraft applications. These include the VoltAero Cassio and Aura Aero Electric Regional Aircraft families of fixed-wing aircraft, as well as the Chinese TCab Tech eVTOL project.

Safran, a global leader in aerospace technology, has announced the successful completion of ground testing for their innovative TP hybrid electric powertrain for regional airliners. This is a significant milestone in the development of more sustainable aviation technologies, as the TP powertrain offers improved efficiency and reduced emissions compared to traditional aircraft engines.

The TP hybrid electric powertrain is designed to power regional airliners with up to 100 passengers and a range of 1,000 kilometers. It combines a gas turbine engine with an electric motor and battery system to provide a more efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional aircraft engines. During ground testing, the powertrain demonstrated its ability to operate seamlessly, with the electric motor providing additional power during takeoff and climb and the gas turbine engine taking over during cruise.

Safran's TP powertrain has the potential to be a game-changer for the aviation industry, as it offers a more sustainable alternative to traditional aircraft engines that rely solely on fossil fuels. The hybrid electric powertrain is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30% and lower noise levels during takeoff and landing, which is crucial for reducing the environmental impact of air travel.

With the successful completion of ground testing, Safran is now planning to move on to flight testing to further validate the performance and efficiency of the TP hybrid electric powertrain. This is an exciting development for the aviation industry, and it highlights the potential for innovative technologies to drive sustainability and reduce the environmental impact of air travel.

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