Oct 4, 2011
Eurocopter says it has successfully tested a hybrid helicopter that combines a turboshaft internal combustion engine with an electric motor - an innovation that opens the way for further enhancements in rotary-wing aircraft safety.
The demonstrator helicopter is a production version of Eurocopter’s light single-engine AS350, which has been equipped with a supplementary electric motor. In the event of an engine failure, the electric motor provides power to the rotor, allowing a pilot to control the helicopter very easily during the descent to a safe touchdown.
The next step is to bring this concept to maturity and evaluate its implementation on Eurocopter’s series production helicopters
Lutz Bertling, Eurocopter President and CEO said: “Hybrid propulsion is an important element of Eurocopter’s innovation roadmap in developing the next generation of helicopters. It offers new opportunities for improvements in safety, along with the potential for reducing fuel consumption and emissions.”
The AS350 hybrid demonstrator has its highly compact electric motor and lithium ion polymer battery installed in the center area of the helicopter. Electronic controls enable precise deployment of power delivered by the electric motor during the period of autorotation.
Eurocopter’s AS350 excels in hot conditions and very high altitudes, holding
holding the record as the only helicopter to have landed on top of Mount Everest.