EADS is demonstrating here at Le Bourget a number of electric- and hybrid-propulsion technologies developed under its commitment to reduce aircraft CO2 emissions. In cooperation with Royan Aero Composites, EADS has developed and built the E-Fan fully electric general-aviation training aircraft and, separately, has engineered with Diamond Aircraft and Siemens the Diamond Aircraft DA36 E-Star 2 hybrid-electric motor-glider. EADS also cooperated with Rolls-Royce on the future distributed-propulsion system concept, and all three projects are dubbed “E-aircraft.”
AgustaWestland’s all-electric ducted fan Project Zero tiltrotor demonstrator is at the Paris Air Show, seen “in the flesh” for the first time.
On Monday at Heli-Expo, AgustaWestland revealed that it has been secretly flying an all-electric vertical takeoff and landing demonstration aircraft powered by twin-electric, direct-drive tiltrotors. The “Project Zero” tiltrotor was designed and built in six months by the company’s advanced concepts group and has been flying since 2011. It features elevons for pitch and roll control and in forward flight, a V-tail for longitudinal stability, and a lifting body design with two integrated tiltrotors than can be tilted through 90 degrees.
A global team of research organizations is quietly working on an active rotor blade in which distributed piezo-electric actuators can change blade twist almost continuously over the course of one blade revolution. Partners can be found in the U.S., Europe and Asia. A full test campaign is scheduled for next year.
L-3 Communications, Fraport (owner of Frankfurt Airport and other airports), Lufthansa German Airlines, and Lufthansa Technik, with Airbus support, have teamed to jointly test a technology demonstrator, which might lead to a new way for aircraft to taxi. The group successfully tested a new method of ground operations using electric motors installed on an Airbus A320. It was the first known time electric motors were installed on the main landing gear of a commercial aircraft and used to provide all necessary aircraft ground movement.
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.
Eurocopter might exhibit a hybrid helicopter, using both piston engines and electric motors like a hybrid car, by Heli-Expo 2020. Parent company EADS last year unveiled a helicopter concept that could burn 50 percent less fuel than its traditional equivalent. EADS Innovation Works is devising a way to combine diesel engines, generators, batteries and electric motors.
Business jet manufacturers are quietly progressing toward more-electric architectures, where electricity replaces hydraulic and pneumatic power in systems such as brakes, landing gear or even control-surface actuation. This avoids the use of environmentally unfriendly hydraulic fluids and ultimately should help reduce fuel burn.
General Electric’s Unison Industries subsidiary has sold its Aircraft Parts Corporation (APC) business unit to TransDigm Group for approximately $68 million in cash. APC, a 50-year-old company based in Holtsville, N.Y., manufactures turbine-engine starter generators, generator control units and related components for Cessna Citations, Bombardier Learjets and Bell and Agusta helicopters.
Helicopter manufacturers are exploring a number of technologies to reduce noise, both that perceived from the ground and inside the cabin. European manufacturers are working on several demonstration programs to reduce noise by changing the helicopter’s airframe dynamics.
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