Airbus is testing an engine backup system (EBS) that uses a 100-Kw motor to provide electric power for up to 30 seconds in the event of main turbine engine failure. According to Airbus, the motor is connected to the main gearbox and gives pilots extra time to react, maintain rotor speed, and enter a smoother autorotation.
The hybrid-propulsion is currently being tested on the company’s H130 turbine-single “Flightlab” in partnership with the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC). Current tests include simulated engine failure across a variety of conditions, including takeoff and landing.
Tests will also demonstrate performance increases from the electric motor input in terms of increased maximum takeoff weight that both compensates for the mass of the EBS and provides additional payload capabilities. Airbus Helicopters said the EBS is a “techno-brick” for future production aircraft and designed for serial production.
“The engine backup system is a good example of the incremental approach in our innovation strategy,” said Tomasz Krysinski, head of research and innovation at Airbus Helicopters. “We already foresee a second phase of the project with more energy and power onboard.” Krysinski said Airbus aims to develop a “fully parallel hybrid propulsion system” to optimize fuel consumption and enable hybrid-single-engine helicopter flights over urban areas.