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Zunum zooms ahead with Safran ZA10 confirmation
Zunum has chosen to power its electric hybrid ZA10 aircraft with the Safran Ardiden 3Z and is using a Rockwell Turbo Commander 840 as the testbed aircraft. The OEM is promising running costs of eight cents a mile.
Zunum's 12-seater hybrid-to-electric aircraft is scheduled to enter service in the early 2020s.

Electric aircraft developer Zunum Aero has selected Safran Helicopter Engines for its ZA10 hybrid-to-electric commercial model, which will be available in the early 2020s. Safran will provide a new generation engine turbine to drive the 12-seat 700 nm ZA10's electrical generator.

Zunum has selected a Rockwell Turbo Commander 840 to modify for the flying testbed aircraft. The Turbo Commander has similar weight and performance to the ZA10, as well as single-engine capability, enabling Zunum to safely modify and test in phases.

The ZA10 is the first in the company’s family of regional hybrid-to-electric aircraft. It will be powered by dual power sources: propulsion batteries, and a Safran turboshaft from the 1,700 to 2,000 shaft horsepower Ardiden range. The Ardiden 3Z will be used as a hybrid power source, meeting Zunum's demanding cost, efficiency and uptime requirements. It will be coupled with an electric generator, and the integrated turbo-generator will deliver 500 kW of electric power to supplement the battery packs on key stages of flight and over long ranges. Upgrades such as advanced materials and integrated lifecycle management for hybrid service are expected to reduce the operating costs of the engine by extending the life of critical components.

Zunum says that the aircraft will deliver operating costs of eight cents per available seat mile or $250 per hour for the aircraft, which is 60-80 per cent lower than conventional aircraft of a comparable size. The ZA10 aircraft is designed to cruise and land on turbo-generator power alone, offering full redundancy.

Co-founder and CTO Matt Knapp comments: “The Zunum ZA10 aircraft will bring breakthrough performance to regional aviation, paving the way for fast, electrified, affordable high speed air services to communities everywhere.”

Safran executive VP Florent Chauvancy adds: “The Ardiden 3Z represents a very powerful complement to the ZA10 because of its exceptional performance and low operating and maintenance costs. This announcement marks a new step forward in demonstrating our ability to offer hybrid propulsive solutions for tomorrow's mobility.”

Ground and flight testing is scheduled for 2019, while delivery of the ZA10 aircraft is targeted for the early 2020s.

In preparation for first flight in 2019, Zunum Aero conducted ground tests of the hybrid-electric power system at Chicago-area facilities earlier this year. Through Q4 2018 and early 2019, the power system will continue to be upgraded and tested in stages to advance it for flight. Meanwhile, the Ardiden 3Z engine will undergo ground tests in France and the US, ahead of integration with the flying testbed in 2019.

Modifications of the test aircraft began on schedule in preparation for a series of flights in the second half of 2019 leading to full hybrid-to-electric conversion with the Safran engine. The flying testbed will continue to be upgraded with successive prototypes until the certification process begins in 2020-21.

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