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Safran and Aura forge meaningful relationship
Safran has ground-tested several types of turbogenerator and Aero Auro is investigating the suitability of the system in its ERA aircraft.
Safran and Aura Aero will evaluate the integration of a turbogenerator in the ERA aircraft.
Read this story in our August 2023 printed issue.

Safran Helicopter Engines and France-based electric aircraft developer Aura Aero have signed a partnership agreement for the propulsion of Aura Aero's ERA (Electric Regional Aircraft). The two partners will work together to evaluate integration solutions for the turbogenerator developed by Safran, in line with the requirements defined for the ERA. This memorandum of understanding follows an agreement signed in April 2022 between the two companies covering the aircraft's electrical equipment.

Designed for breakthrough propulsive architectures such as Aura Aero's ERA project, a turbogenerator comprises a gas turbine with one or more electrical generators, as well as an innovative system to regulate electrical power and voltage. Safran Helicopter Engines, which leverages on all Safran's expertise in electrical equipment, starting with Safran Electrical & Power, has already ground-tested several types of turbogenerator at various power levels.

“Becoming an Aura Aero partner is excellent news for Safran Helicopter Engines. We share the same ambition to decarbonise air transport and are ready to bring it our expertise in hybrid-electric propulsion, developed through several tests,” says EVP OEM sales Florent Chauvancy.

Aura Aero CEO Jeremy Caussade adds: “We're delighted that Safran Helicopter Engines has joined us, bringing its expertise and insight to this project.”

The ERA is a 19 seater regional aircraft with hybrid-electric propulsion, scheduled to make its first flight in 2026, with a view to entering service in 2028. It has an orderbook of several hundred letters of intent.

Meanwhile Safran has validated its Eco Mode hybrid propulsion system during ground tests in Bordes, France, in preparation for upcoming flight tests on the Airbus Racer high-speed helicopter demonstrator. The hybrid electric propulsion mode was tested for the first time in a configuration similar to the one that will be used on the Racer.

Designed for twin engine helicopters, Eco Mode places one engine on standby during cruise, while the other operates at a more energy-efficient power setting. This mode reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by about 15 per cent and increases the helicopter's range. The engine is automatically restored to full power by an innovative electric fast restart system, within just a few seconds, when needed for landing or during an emergency.

The Racer's Eco Mode uses an Aneto-1A engine and the fast restart electrical system developed jointly with Aquitaine Electronique (AECE Group) and Safran Cabin (Ventilation Systems). This system combines an electronic engine control with a high-power-density electric motor, mechanically connected to the engine's high pressure section.

Eco Mode was developed as part of a research project funded by the French civil aviation authority DGAC. The twin Aneto-1A engines, each rated at 2,500 shp, will play a key role in the Racer's performance, particularly its ability to reach and maintain a long range cruising speed of up to 400 km/h.

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