Most powerful hybrid electric powertrain powers up
A major step towards electric powered air travel was achieved on 9th February 2016 in the project HYPSTAIR, with the power-up of the world’s most powerful hybrid electric powertrain for aviation.
A major step towards electric powered air travel was achieved on 9th February 2016 with the power-up of the world’s most powerful hybrid electric powertrain for aviation in a project led by Pipistrel. Hybrid-electric powertrains are a new breed of aviation propulsion, which extend the range of all-electric aircraft while being environmentally friendly and quiet. The 200 kW propulsor developed during the project HYPSTAIR delivers the power equivalent to a typical general aviation piston engine and can run in three modalities: electric-only mode using batteries, generator-only mode or hybrid mode combining both power sources.
All powertrain components developed by Siemens during the project represent the state of the art of electric flight propulsion. The drive motor, delivering 200 kW take off power and 150 kW continuous, and the generator, delivering 100 kW feature a power density exceeding 5 kW/kg and dual windings with four power controllers to provide unprecedented reliability. Further element of innovation is the Human-Machine-Interface designed to simplify the operation of a complex powertrain. A single lever with haptic feedback is used to apply power and a new integrated cockpit display to monitor the powertrain status and performance.
Following the extensive laboratory testing of components and the integration on a representative airframe at the Pipistrel aviation factory in Slovenia, the successful power up trialled all propulsion modes at low and high powers, driving a specially developed five blade low rpm, low noise propeller. Tests of take-off power were performed using combined output of the generator driven by a turbonormalised engine and the high-performance battery custom developed to support high discharge rates.
Pipistrel CEO, Ivo Boscarol, says: “We are proud of what HYPSTAIR represents for the development of electric flight. It demonstrates the possibility for general aviation class aircraft to be electrically powered and it confirms the vision of Pipistrel – we were the first to design a four seat aircraft, the Panthera, than can be alternatively equipped with three different propulsion types: piston engine, electric motor or hybrid powertrain. Project HYPSTAIR represents a major step in the direction of a hybrid aircraft and an opportunity for Pipistrel and other general aviation aircraft manufacturers.”
Frank Anton, Head of eAircraft and the initiator of electric aircraft development at Siemens AG: “Siemens is developing electric drive systems with highest power-to-weight ratio for aircraft propulsion. Only with innovation we can solve the problems of rising fuel costs, rising passenger demand and rising environmental regulation. Innovations developed for the HYPSTAIR hybrid-electric powertrain will be instrumental in making aviation more sustainable in the long run. As electric drives are scalable, we can expect, that in the future also larger aircraft will use electric propulsion. The world is becoming electric, whether in the air, on land or at sea.”
Max Pinucci, CEO of MBVision: “In technical progress, there have always been small steps that demonstrated how reality can be even more creative of imagination. This success opens the way not only to the future hybrid/electric flight, but to endless opportunities of research in technology and design, representing the true patrimony in which we must invest”.
Prof. Aldo Frediani from University of Pisa: “The electric flying allows not only reduction of the environmental impact of aviation but also the opportunity to investigate different aircraft configurations, innovative architectures for integration of the motors, new design tools and methods. In HYPSTAIR project, our team has focused on the performance estimation of the hybrid electric aircraft and has developed a simulator with the capability of taking into account the behaviours of all the components, including the pilot. Piloting strategy, in fact, has a big influence on energy management; moreover a new generation of hybrid airplane pilots may once be required for the future affirmation of this technology.”
“The HYPSTAIR project is an excellent example of fruitful cooperation between stakeholders of industry, science and research. With power-up of the world’s most powerful hybrid electric powertrain for aviation significant milestone was achieved, to be followed by further laboratory testing of components under the leadership of University of Maribor. During the project, our team delivered also a pioneer work on haptic power lever providing much easier operation of the complex hybrid system. We believe that further development of alternative propulsion systems is essential. Hopefully, its importance will be recognized and continually supported by the European Commission.” says assoc. prof. dr. Stane Božičnik from University of Maribor.
In the upcoming months, extensive testing will continue to simulate typical mission profiles covered in the performance study and to validate the hybrid drive concept and performance. This pioneering achievement was first unveiled at the E2 Fliegen Symposium 2016 in Stuttgart, Germany.
Project HYPSTAIR has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no. 605305. Project partners are Pipistrel d.o.o. Ajdovščina, Siemens AG, MBVision, University of Pisa and University of Maribor.
Take a look at the video of the first power-up!