Daher, Airbus, and Safran announced a collaborative partnership today at the Paris Air Show to design and develop EcoPulse, a wing-mounted distributed hybrid-propulsion demonstrator based on Daher’s TBM platform. First flight is expected in 2022, according to the three French companies.
Kickstarted by the French Civil Aviation Research Council with support from the French Civil Aviation Authority, the project aims to validate technologies designed to reduce emissions and noise pollution and create new uses for air transportation.
Engine manufacturer Safran will develop the distributed hybrid-propulsion system. Airbus has charge of aerodynamic optimization of the propulsion system, installation of high-energy-density batteries, and their use to power the aircraft. Daher will handle component and systems installation, flight testing, regulatory approvals, and construction.
The distributed hybrid propulsion system consists of a turbogenerator, a combined turbine and power generator; an electric power management system; and integrated electric thrusters, also known as e-Propellers. These thrusters will be integrated into the EcoPulse wing, providing both thrust and aerodynamic gains, the latter including reduced wing surface area and wingtip vortices, thereby lowering drag.
Though the design is in its early stage, the small model displayed at the 2019 Paris Air Show and in animated videos appeared identical to a Daher TBM turboprop but for three small, evenly-spaced electric motors and propellers on the leading edge of each wing.
These electric engines could be used to power the aircraft to and from the runway and also during cruise and descent in place of the TBM's Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6. Meanwhile, the turboprop engine would be used for takeoff and other high-power flight phases, charging the hybrid system’s batteries at the same time. Expected performance metrics have yet to be released.
“We are determined to make [reduced environmental impact of aircraft] a distinctive feature of the French aircraft industry,” said Daher senior v-p of aerospace and defense business, Nicolas Orance.