Engine maker Safran, ZF Luftfahrttechnik (ZFL), and MT-Propeller are jointly developing a new turboprop engine system aimed at Europe’s unmanned aircraft market. ZFL will develop the propeller accessory gearbox.
“This partnership lays the foundation of a solid cooperation between renowned actors in the field of aircraft propulsion. It will offer the European aerospace industry a 100 percent European engine solution for new unmanned applications, featuring high levels of design maturity and competitive operating and maintenance costs,” said Safran Helicopter Engines executive v-p for programs Bruno Bellanger.
The new engine will be optimized for medium and high altitude, up to 45,000 feet, and feature Fadec and propeller control for both power and propeller pitch. It is a derivative of Safran Helicopter Engines’ Ardiden 3-based Tech TP demonstration engine. That engine made its first ground run in June at Safran’s Tarnos, France facility. The goal of Tech TP, which is part of the European Union’s Clean Sky 2 research and innovation program, is to validate technologies required to develop a new-generation turboprop with lightweight architecture, improved fuel consumption, and lower emissions.
Safran’s Ardiden 3 is a new turboshaft that produces power in the 1,700- to 2,000-shp range. Two models, the Ardiden 3C and 3G, already have completed more than 10,000 hours of tests and been certified by EASA. The 3G powers the Russian Kamov Ka-62, while the 3C/WZ16 powers the Chinese Avicopter AC352. More than 250 Ardiden 1 engines are already in service, completing some 200,000 flying hours in Indian airframes, including the HAL Dhruv, Light Combat Helicopter, and Light Utility Helicopter.