ABOVE: The EcoPulse made its maiden hybrid-electric flight on 29 November

Ecopulse, the hybrid-electric distributed aircraft demonstrator (jointly developed by Daher, Safran and Airbus) has made its inaugural flight in hybrid-electric mode.

During the test flight (which took off from Daher’s Aircraft Division headquarters in Tarbes, France), the modified Daher Socata TBM flew with its six wing-mounted ePropellers engaged, powered by a battery and a turbogenerator. The flight lasted around 100 minutes and is described by Daher as marking ‘the culmination of several technical milestones, including extensive ground tests and ten hours of flight tests… with the electrical system inactive’.

The airframe was unveiled in its final external configuration at this year’s Paris Airshow, featuring six ePropellers (supplied by Safran) distributed along the wings. Its gas turbine-driven electric generator (provided by Safran) is paired with an Airbus-designed high density battery pack, rated at 800V DC and capable of delivering up to 350kW of power. Airbus also developed the flight control computer, and Safran provided the high-voltage power harnesses and Power Distribution and Rectifier Unit (PRDU).

Although this specific aircraft is not scheduled for series production, the flight test campaign will impart “invaluable data on the effectiveness of onboard technologies, including distributed propulsion, high-voltage batteries and hybrid-electric propulsion,” explained Pascal Laguerre, Chief Technology Officer at Daher. With a specific emphasis on CO2 emissions and noise level reduction, he concluded that the project is “working to converge practical and significant know-how on design, certification and operation to shape our path toward more sustainable aircraft for the future”.

However, Daher have previously indicated they may bring a hybrid-electric aircraft to market as soon as 2027, building on insights learned from projects such as the Ecopulse.