ABOVE: Daher’s technology demonstrator features six additional ‘e-props’ mounted on the leading edges of the wings 

Daher’s Ecopulse technology demonstrator (a modified TBM 900 being developed in conjunction with Safran and Airbus) will make its first electric-powered flight “within the next two weeks or so,” Daher CEO Didier Kayat has confirmed.

Described by Daher as ‘one of the French aeronautics industry’s major collaborative projects,’ the distributed-propulsion hybrid aircraft is being developed to help advance what Chief Technology Officer Pascal Laguerre describes as “key architectural principles for future hybrid aircraft”. The project is also supported by France’s CORAC civil aviation research council.

The first flight of the test bed (using conventional power, but with three ‘e-props’ mounted on each wing to test handling characteristics) was achieved at the end of 2022. The demonstrator made its first public appearance in its final configuration at the June 2023 Paris Airshow, featuring six integrated wing-mounted 800v 45-kW Safran ENGINeUS engines.

Following successful ground tests of the electric power and management system, the demonstrator has amassed in excess of 27 hours of flight time with the electric propellers feathered. The next step is to fly the aircraft using purely electric power; a milestone expected to be achieved within the next fortnight in the south of France.

Building on insights learned from the Ecopulse technology demonstrator, Daher intends to bring a hybrid-power aircraft to market in 2027; most likely a modified power system adapted to an existing airframe.