EcoPulse Aircraft Demonstrator Makes its First Hybrid-Electric Flight
The demonstrator flew with its ePropellers activated, powered by a battery and a turbogenerator, companies report.
December 5, 2023
EcoPulse, the hybrid-electric distributed propulsion aircraft demonstrator jointly developed by Daher, Safran and Airbus to support aviation’s decarbonization roadmap, has successfully performed its first flight test in hybrid-electric mode, the companies report. The demonstrator flew with its ePropellers activated, powered by a battery and a turbogenerator.
EcoPulse took off from Tarbes Airport* on November 29, 2023 at 10:32 hrs CEST for a test flight that lasted approximately 100 minutes. During the flight, the crew engaged the electric propellers and verified the proper functioning of the demonstrator's flight control computer, high-voltage battery pack, distributed electric propulsion and hybrid electric turbogenerator.
EcoPulse’s first hybrid flight is the culmination of several technical milestones, including extensive ground tests and 10 hours of flight tests of the aircraft with the electrical system inactive, according to the companies.
“We confirmed today that this disruptive propulsion system works in flight, which paves the way for more sustainable aviation,” says Eric Dalbiès, Safran’s executive vice president strategy and chief technology officer. “The lessons learned from upcoming flight tests will feed into our technology roadmap and strengthen our position as leader in future all-electric and hybrid-electric propulsive systems.”
“This is a major milestone for our industry and we’re proud to have powered the EcoPulse demonstrator first flight with our new battery systems,” says Sabine Klauke, chief technical officer at Airbus. “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. 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 flight campaign will give Daher invaluable data on the effectiveness of the onboard technologies, including distributed propulsion, high-voltage batteries and hybrid-electric propulsion,” comments Pascal Laguerre, chief technology officer at Daher. “We’re working to converge practical and significant know-how on design, certification and operation to shape our path toward more sustainable aircraft for the future.”
Unveiled at the 2019 Paris Air Show, EcoPulse is one of the major collaborative projects in Europe in aviation decarbonization. It is supported by CORAC (the French Civil Aviation Research Council), and co-funded by DGAC (the French Civil Aviation Authority) through France Relance (the French government’s economy recovery plan) and NextGeneration EU. The demonstrator aims to evaluate the operational advantages of integrating hybrid-electric distributed propulsion, with specific emphasis on CO2 emissions and noise level reduction. This propulsion architecture enables a single independent electrical source to power several electric motors distributed throughout the aircraft.
Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.