Airbus helicopters and French Ministry for Transport (DGAC) announced at the Paris Air Show 2019, that their new hybrid light helicopter demonstrator will perform its first flight next year.
At the event, they launched a research project aimed at demonstrating the use of a hybrid propulsion system on board H-130 single-engine helicopter testbed. It will focus on the integration of an electric backup system on the testbed helicopter in order to power the rotor system for up to 30 seconds, without the use of the main gas turrbine.
“This project will result in new technologies and a demonstrator that are essential for the development of a new generation of cleaner helicopters,” Elisabeth Borne, French Minister for Transport within the Ministry of Ecological and Inclusive Transition, said.
As part of this research programme, this concept will be matured to a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6, bringing it closer to potential certification and industrialisation. The demonstration package will include an electric motor provided by Thales, a battery pack developed by Airbus Defence and Space as well as electric converters provided by ADENEO. It will be installed and test-flown on an H-130 chopper. The project will be jointly funded by DGAC and Airbus Helicopters.
“If introduced on serial helicopters, this technology could provide the pilots of single-engine rotorcraft more flexibility to perform autorotation in case of an engine shutdown. Further evolutions of the technology could lead to reduction in fuel consumption and sound levels,” said Bruno Even, CEO, Airbus Helicopters.