It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from the aviation industry’s green initiative. Although battery-electric systems are already ubiquitous in the motoring scene, engineers still encounter challenges when they attempt to scale up. Meanwhile, Airbus explores the potential of hybrid-electric technology and just recently completed a test flight of their EcoPulse.

So far, several eco-friendly flight platforms have already conducted test flights with varying degrees of success. Most are just short routes and in limited areas for the sake of safety. Given most sustainable propulsion systems are still in the prototype stages, regulators need to have restrictions in place.

As noted by reports, the team already attempted multiple ground and flight tests with the EcoPulse. However, these were all done with minimal electronic assistance. Originally revealed at the 2019 Paris Air Show, this is a collaborative project between Airbus, Safran, and Daher. The donor aircraft is a TMB model from the latter. 

Mounted on each wing are three e-Propellers packing 50 kW Safran electric drive engines for a total of six. A generator powered by a gas turbine supplied by the former and an 800V battery pack from Airbus are both connected to a Power Distribution and Rectifier Unit (PDRU). The EcoPulse took off from Tarbes Airport in France and flew for around 100 minutes.

Airbus CTO Sabine Klauke stated, “This is a major milestone for our industry, and we’re proud to have powered the EcoPulse demonstrator’s first flight with our new battery systems.” Acoustic monitoring was also at play to determine if the aircraft operates quieter than its standard counterpart. Finally, the pilots were using a custom flight control computer system developed specifically for the hybrid model.

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Images courtesy of Airbus/Safran/Daher