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Airbus and French Ministry target 2020 for hybrid helicopter flight


June 26, 2019
By Helicopters Staff


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Airbus Helicopters and the French Ministry for Transport (DGAC) have launched a research project aimed at demonstrating the use of a hybrid propulsion system on board an H130 single-engine helicopter testbed.

Targetting a 2020 first flight date for the demonstrator, the program will focus on the integration of an electric backup system on the testbed helicopter in order to power the rotor system for up to 30 seconds, explains Airbus, without the use of the main gas turbine.

As part of this research program, Airbus explains this concept will be matured to a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6, bringing it closer to potential certification and industrialization. The demonstration package will include an electric motor provided by Thales, a battery pack developed by Airbus Defence and Space, and electric converters provided by ADENEO. The project will be jointly funded by DGAC and Airbus Helicopters.

“The helicopter industry is transforming at a fast pace and I’m very excited about this new partnership with DGAC, which helps us prepare the future of vertical flight,” said Bruno Even, CEO, Airbus Helicopters. “If introduced on serial helicopters, this technology could deliver new standards in terms of safety by providing pilots of single-engine rotorcraft more flexibility to perform autorotation in case of an engine shutdown.

Even continues to explain the technology could also provide significant reductions in fuel consumption and sound levels, increasing the acceptance of helicopters in urban environments.