Safran has completed a first ground test of a hybrid-electric propulsion system designed for urban mobility vertical take-off and landing applications.
The “distributed propulsion system” comprises a gas turbine engine coupled with an electrical generator and batteries, which power multiple electric motors driving propellers.
Safran says that the trial at its helicopter engines test facility near Pau-Pyrenees airport in France covered several operating modes, under which the electric motors were driven by battery power alone and by a combination of batteries and the gas turbine-generator assembly.
The system generated 100kW of electrical power.
In June, Safran and Bell revealed a partnership to develop hybrid-electric propulsion systems for aircraft providing “mobility on demand”.
The French manufacturer says the propulsion systems should facilitate “emergence of new VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) and STOL (short take-off and landing) aircraft”.
Safran Helicopter Engines vice-president Jean-Baptiste Jarin says: “We are on track to meet our goal of testing a more powerful system in the near future.”