Safran Aims To Be First To Certify Electric Engine

Safran’s ENGINeUS XL is a 500- 1,000-kW liquid-cooled electric engine aimed at regional aircraft.

Credit: Mark Wagner

Safran plans to begin certification testing on its ENGINeUS 100 electric engine in July, with flight tests expected to begin around the same time. 

The French aerospace company anticipates European certification in the first quarter of 2024 and wants to be the first to certify an electric engine for the CS-23/Part 23 aircraft.

The ENGINeUS 100 has been selected to power the Aura Aero Integral E and Diamond eDA40 electric training aircraft, CAE’s electrified Piper Archer trainer and VolAero’s hybrid-electric Cassio 330 as well as Chinese startup TCab Tech’s E20 electric-vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) vehicle.

“The ENGINeUS is well advanced in certification,” says Bruno Bellanger, vice president and general manager for power at Safran Electrical & Power. “We converged on the means of compliance with EASA [the European Union Aviation Safety Agency] in February/March and will start certification tests in July.”

The company has obtained its Design Organization Approval from EASA, which is a prerequisite for type certification. “We are now the third engine manufacturer in Safran,” he says, the others being Safran Aircraft Engines and Safran Helicopter Engines.

Moving into electric propulsion is a key pillar of Safran’s decarbonization strategy, Bellanger says. Safran Electric & Power has been built up through the acquisition of the electrical systems businesses of Goodrich (2012), Aerosource (2017), Zodiac (2018) and now Thales.

Bellanger says the resulting business is No. 1 in the aerospace industry in power distribution, No. 2 in generation “and we have the ambition to lead in electric propulsion.”

Safran’s ENGINeUS 100 covers the 100-180-kW range with a power density of 5 kW/kg at peak output. The motor is air cooled, with an embedded motor controller. This simplifies the aircraft side and minimizes electromagnetic interference, Bellanger says.

Safran is also developing the ENGINeUS XL, a larger liquid-cooled electric engine. “This is still in R&T [research and technology] and is being tested by customers. We plan to certify the XL in 2026-27 depending on the market,” he says.

Intended for regional aircraft applications, the XL was previously called the ENGINeUS 500, but demonstrated more than 500 kW in testing and has the capability to reach 1 megawatt when the market is ready, Bellanger says.

The ENGINeUS range is a family of high-torque motors for propulsion. Safran is also developing the GENeUS range of high-speed electric machines for power generation. With a power density of 10 kW/kg, GENeUS systems for two applications are running on the bench, he says.

Combined, ENGINeUS and GENeUS are the basis for hybridization of commercial turbine engines under Safran/GE joint venture CFM International’s RISE technology development program. “XL is the basis of a motor on the low-pressure compressor with GENeUS on the high-pressure compressor,” he says.

Safran is also developing turbogenerators for hybrid-electric propulsion applications. U.S. startup has selected the 600-kW AG600 turbogenerator for the prototype of its nine-passenger serial-hybrid electric short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) aircraft.

The AG600 is based on Safran’s Arrano helicopter turboshaft, fitted with a gearbox driving two 300-kW GENeUS of generators with embedded active rectifiers. “We can base turbogenerators on any of our helicopter turboshafts from 500-3,000 shp. We picked our newest baby, the Arrano, for the 600-kW system,” Bellanger says.

In addition to electric engines and generators, Safran is also developing the GENeUSGRID primary power distribution system. This provides distribution and network protection of megawatt-level high-voltage power–800-1000 volts–to high altitude.

The company is also involved in energy storage for electrified propulsion. Safran Power Units is developing hydrogen fuel cell systems, and working with Cranfield Aerospace Solutions on its hydrogen-electric conversion of the nine-passenger Britten-Norman Islander.

“We do have the ambition to provide a battery pack,” Bellanger says. Called GENeUSPACK, “for now this is pure R&T.” Safran is not pursuing lithium-ion cell technology, he adds, but looking instead at the next battery chemistry for packs up to 150 kW/hr.

Graham Warwick

Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.


1 Comment
Seems to me that more than the motor requires certification. What about the power source?