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Airbus’s New Hybrid-Electrical Plane Simply Accomplished Its First Flight

Airbus’s New Hybrid-Electrical Plane Simply Accomplished Its First Flight

Airbus’s innovative hybrid plane is up, up, and away.

The EcoPulse recently completed its first flight test in hybrid-electric mode, marking a significant step toward the decarbonization of the aviation industry.

The aircraft departed France’s Tarbes Airport just after 10 a.m. on November 29 and flew for approximately 100 minutes, according to a statement shared by the aerospace giant on December 5. The EcoPulse has completed extensive ground tests and 10 hours of flight tests, but the electrical systems were always inactive. This recent jaunt is proof that the hybrid propulsion system works in flight.

“This is a major milestone for our industry, and we’re proud to have powered the EcoPulse demonstrator’s first flight with our new battery systems,” Airbus CTO Sabine Klauke said in a statement.

Unveiled at the Paris Air Show in 2019, the EcoPulse was developed by Airbus, Daher, and Safran to reduce carbon emissions and lower noise levels. Based on a Daher TBM aircraft, the newcomer is equipped with six electric thrusters (or e-Propellers) on the wings. Each one is driven by an electric Safran engine rated at 50 kW.

The pilots on the EcoPulse’s first hybrid-electric flight.

The propulsion system combines two power sources: a turbogenerator (an electric generator driven by a gas turbine) that was supplied by Safran and a 800 V battery pack that was supplied by Airbus and can deliver up to a 350 kW. In addition, a Power Distribution and Rectifier Unit (PDRU) protects the high-voltage network and distributes the available power.

The demonstrator is fitted with acoustic monitors that measure noise levels so that the team can make refinements to future designs if needed. Airbus has also developed an advanced flight control computer system that will allow pilots to carry out maneuvers using the ePropellers.

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“High-energy density batteries will be necessary to reduce carbon emissions from aviation, whether for light aircraft, advanced air mobility, or large hybrid-electric aircraft,” adds Klauke. “Projects like EcoPulse are key to accelerating progress in electric and hybrid electric flight, and a cornerstone of our aim to decarbonize the aerospace industry as a whole.”

The team says lessons learned from upcoming flight tests will feed into their technology roadmap and help them to create more sustainable aircraft for the future.

Source: Robb Report

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