Euro Research Focusing on Helicopter Electric Systems
A call for proposal released for Europe’s main aerospace research project, the €1.6 billion ($2.2 billion) Clean Sky joint technology initiative, has highlighted a strong focus on electric systems for helicopters. As stated in the document, “A primary objective of the Green Rotorcraft integrated technology demonstrator (ITD) is the removal of hydraulics from all rotorcraft systems.” The plan calls for an investment of €1 million ($1.4 million) for the development of electric motors that would power landing-gear wheels on the ground, which would avoid having the rotors spinning just for taxi. Another €700,000 ($980,000) is earmarked for developing an electric rotor brake that would replace current hydraulic brakes, which just dissipate the rotor’s kinetic energy as waste heat. An electric brake would be able to recover part of that energy. Finally, €450,000 would be spent to demonstrate a high-voltage, rapid charge/discharge electric energy storage system. The Green Rotorcraft ITD accounts for 10 percent of Clean Sky’s budget. It involves Eurocopter and AgustaWestland, among other companies and research organizations.