Safran Helicopter Engines will develop the 600-kilowatt turbogenerator propulsion system for the prototype of Electra.aero’s nine-passenger, hybrid-electric short-takeoff-and-landing (HeSTOL) aircraft, the companies revealed this week at the 2023 Paris Airshow.
Earlier this month, Electra rolled out a two-seat technology demonstrator vehicle, which uses blown lift via distributed electric propulsion. It plans to be ready to fly the full-scale prototype in 2025 as it advances toward FAA Part 23 certification in 2028.
According to Electra, the Safran turbogenerator is the heart of the as-yet-unnamed eSTOL’s hybrid-electric propulsion architecture. The turbogenerator includes a gas turbine based on Safran’s Arrano turboshaft engine driving two GENeUS electric generators, as well as an electrical power management system. Safran said it has already ground-tested several types of turbogenerators at various power levels.
“We’ve closely evaluated the advanced air mobility market, and we believe the Electra eSTOL offers groundbreaking capability in a practical design that meets market needs of both today and tomorrow while being backed by a team with decades of experience to enable its success,” said Safran Helicopter Engines executive v-p of OEM sales Florent Chauvancy.
“We will be bringing to their project all the expertise we have independently developed in the field of hybrid-electric propulsion, combining electric and thermal energy sources, to develop the right turbogenerator for Electra’s first nine-passenger prototype aircraft.”
J.P. “James” Stewart, Electra’s v-p and general manager, explained that “hybrid propulsion is key to providing emissions and cost reductions while preserving useful payloads, ranges, and speeds.”