EcoPulse™ is a distributed hybrid-propulsion aircraft demonstrator developed in partnership with Daher and Safran with the support of France’s CORAC and DGAC. Airbus is providing battery technology and overseeing aerodynamic modelling for this project that aims to leverage the benefits of distributed propulsion to improve aircraft’s environmental performance.
The untapped potential of distributed propulsion
EcoPulse™ focuses on evaluating the benefits of distributed propulsion and its possible integration on future aircraft. Distributed propulsion is a system that works by breaking down thrust generation among many small engines positioned along the span of the wing.
By minimising the power of each propulsor and, as a result, its mass, distributed propulsion could unlock a range of possibilities for improved aircraft performance. This includes the following:
- Improved cruise, and take-off and landing performance
- Reduced noise due to better synchronisation between several propellers
- Increased energy savings due to reduced tail surface and better aircraft control
A cross-industry collaboration
EcoPulse™ is based on a modified Daher TBM turboprop aircraft. The standard engine and propeller systems are augmented by six wing-mounted propellers, each of which is driven by 50-kW ENGINeUS™ electric motors powered by batteries or an auxiliary power unit.
The demonstrator is developed in partnership with Daher and Safran. The partners contribute the following:
- Development of a high-energy-density battery to be used as an electric source for four of the six propellers
- Aerodynamic and acoustic integration of the distributed-propulsion system
- Development of a Flight Control computer system
- Aircraft integration of the components brought by Airbus and Safran on its airframe
- Flight and airworthiness testing
- Overall results analysis coordination
- Distributed hybrid-propulsion system integration (excluding batteries)
The project is also supported by the French Civil Aviation Research Council (CORAC) and the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC).
Bringing alternative propulsion to future aircraft
The EcoPulse™ demonstrator project is a part of Airbus’ decarbonisation roadmap, which focuses on developing a mix of solutions to support the transition to climate-neutral aviation.
Other key project objectives include the following:
- To identify the methods, tools and outcomes needed for the design of a distributed-propulsion aircraft
- To flight-test a new high-voltage-battery configuration and support flight clearance
- To improve alternative-propulsion simulation models for use on larger aircraft
- To evaluate the design’s aerodynamic gains
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