FILTON,UKAirbus has finished wind tunnel tests of the electric motor that will power the EcoPulse hybrid demonstrator, a green plane being developed by the European airframer.

The test was carried out at the planemaker’s Filton, UK facility. The test will enable Airbus to analyze the overall performance characteristics of the propeller and the electric motor’s cooling system.

For the trials, the 50kW Safran engine was assembled with an Airbus-built nacelle and DUC Helices propeller. With the engine running at different speeds and power levels, measurements of the thrust and force on the propellers were taken. Additionally, the propeller wake was evaluated.

“This gave us a set of experimental data to better understand the interaction between the propeller and the wing,” said Tim Axford, head of the wind tunnel facility at Airbus UK.

Engine and air temperatures were also taken to assess the effectiveness of cooling technologies, says Axford.

"Data collected during the wind tunnel tests will “allow Airbus and its partners to better estimate the power consumption of the propulsion system, and consequently the final energy performance of the aircraft demonstrator”, Axford added.

Having passed the preliminary design review milestone in December 2020, the critical design review process is now underway. That should allow the production of the EcoPulse demonstrator to begin later this year, ahead of ground testing in early 2022, followed by a first flight next summer.

Launched in 2019, EcoPulse is supported by France’s CORAC civil aviation research council and the country’s regulator, DGAC. Based on a Daher TBM airframe, the design features six electric motors on the wing, plus a conventional turboprop engine in the nose, which doubles as a turbogenerator.