Aircraft engine and components manufacturer ITP Aero is leading two R&D projects on electric propulsion systems for urban and regional mobility, with a total budget of 13 million euros, which will be the first propulsion systems of these characteristics made in Spain.
Despite the fact that the electrification of ground propulsion systems has reached a high level of technological and manufacturing maturity, the strict safety and energy density requirements applicable to air transport make it difficult to use electric propulsion in this sector. For this reason, ITP Aero is committed to the development of disruptive technologies that enable more sustainable air transport systems. In order to integrate the entire system, the aeronautics company is aiming for five different propulsion system variants with a very wide power range from 60 to 600 kilowatts. The urban and regional electric mobility sector is set to be a growth market over the next decade, and ITP Aero is preparing technologically for the anticipated demand.
These zero emission electric propulsion systems will target urban and inter-urban mobility applications such as air taxis, which can provide fast city-to-airport services, intra- and inter-city travel, emergency services and logistics operations. In the high power range, these distributed electric propulsion systems can be used in regional applications with limited range. In a second phase and in line with ITP Aero's disruptive technology development plan, the company plans to hybridise these types of propulsion systems for use in regional aviation.
CTO Erlantz Cristóbal says: "At ITP Aero we are committed to the decarbonisation of the aeronautical sector, and distributed electric propulsion is a key technology to achieving this. These projects are a milestone in our market diversification strategy, and we foresee that by the end of this decade there will be a strong development in the demand for this type of aircraft, reaching figures of between 300 and 600 aircraft per year."
Both projects are being developed thanks to public-private collaboration. Specifically, the Aperturas project is subsidised by the Spanish Centre for Technological Development and Innovation (CDTI) attached to the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation through the Aeronautical Technology Programme within the EU's framework of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan. In addition to ITP Aero, Ingeteam, Egile, Zeleros, Umiles-Next, technology centres and universities such as Tecnalia, CTA, CEIT, Mondragon Unibertsitatea and UPValencia are also participating.
Likewise, the Preludio project is subsidised by the Basque Government's Hazitek 2022 business R&D support programme, in which Ingeteam, Alconza, Antec, Suprasys, Egile, technology centres and universities such as Tecnalia, CTA, CEIT, Mondragon Unibertsitatea, IKERLAN and IRDE are also taking part, in addition to ITP Aero.