Safety – Electric Propulsion Demonstrator

Safety – Electric Propulsion Demonstrator

Debbie Cudley

Our extensive whole aircraft experience and recognised multi-systems capability, led to our involvement in a significant research and concept demonstrator programme to investigate the potential for electric propulsion on future hybrid electric aircraft.

 

The project

WEC specialist engineers worked alongside several major original equipment manufacturers, to explore and examine the potential for an electric source for the propulsion of aircraft. All of the contributors were united in their desire to progress towards more environmentally friendly flight, using a sustainable, green energy source.

  • The project intent was to enable achievement of the European Union technical environmental goals of the European Commission’s Flightpath 2050 Vision for Aviation.
  • The aim was to have a flying technology demonstrator to advance the knowledge and learning towards the goal of decarbonising future flight.
  • New technologies were required to meet programme aims, including electrification.
  • The programme involved replacing one of four conventionally powered, hydrocarbon fuelled, engines on the aircraft with an electrically powered motor to produce a hybrid-electric technology demonstrator.
  • With the technology limitations of today’s batteries, and anticipating the required improvement to battery development, the electrical power used to supply the test engine was supplied by a combination of batteries and a conventional turboshaft engine mounted within the fuselage of the aircraft and powering three electrical generators.
Plane runway engine
Two women looking at a tablet device

The benefit

Due to our multi-systems, whole aircraft experience and platform knowledge, WEC specialist engineers were able to view the project holistically. We were able to join the project team with minimum ramp up time and provide expertise framed by our robust processes and rigorous in-house Quality Management System.

Utilising our extensive aircraft knowledge WEC aided the safety case and design considerations for this significant, forward looking, programme investigating the potential for an electric source of propulsion on aircraft. The project was heralded as offering rich insights into the future of more electric aircraft as we push to decarbonise flight.

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