Wright takes his hybrid electric propulsion system to flight

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Wright Electric announces the successful first flights of its hybrid-electric agricultural spreader aircraft with its partner Axter Aerospace. With a combined shaft output of 800 kW, the single-engine Thrush test aircraft will be used to evaluate and refine critical subcomponents such as inverters, motors and batteries.

An (experimental) hybrid electric spreading plane

The American start-up Wright Aerospace and the Spanish company Axter Aerospace have unveiled their Thrush agricultural spreading plane, which has been converted to hybrid-electric propulsion. The companies plan to use the aircraft as a test bed for electric propulsion components, including motors, inverters and batteries. The single-engine Thrush has been modified to an 800 kW parallel hybrid configuration, which combines a 300 kW electric motor with the original 500 kW Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turboprop. Everything drives the propeller via a specific reduction gear-coupling system.

Towards 2 Megawatts

The device will therefore serve as a test bed since Wright Aerospace is also developing a 2 megawatt electric propulsion unit (EPU or Electronic Propulsion Unit) for regional jets and turboprops and has launched a program to develop a battery of 1,000 Wh/kg. The engine manufacturer announced at the Paris Air Show that it had reached megawatt. Since then, it has even surpassed it, since the EPU reached a peak power of 1.2 megawatts and a continuous power of 1.1 megawatts during ground tests. On a specific bench reconstructing the altitude, tests should be carried out in 2024 with the assistance of NASA, in Ohio.

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