Safran has been working for a long time to improve the environmental performance of air transport. In particular, the Group is one of the main players in the Clean Sky 2 European research program, co-funded by the European Union and the aviation industry, which aims to develop innovative technologies to make air transport more sustainable.
A new generation turboprop engine
Under the leadership of Safran Helicopter Engines, three Group companies* are joining forces with some 20 partners to rethink the potential of turboprop engines. “We have long known that over short distances, turboprop engines offer better performance than turbojets in terms of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions,” explains Sébastien Detry, the CleanSky 2 TechTP Project Manager at Safran Helicopter Engines. However, the turboprop engines currently in service were developed decades ago and are therefore very much open to improvement. We have therefore sought to modernize the concept by integrating the most advanced technologies to create a more compact, lighter, more fuel-efficient and “greener” turboprop.” This work has resulted in the Tech TP, a new-generation turboprop technology demonstrator that was developed based on Safran Helicopter Engines’ Ardiden 3 helicopter engine, the latest and most powerful (1,700 to 2,000 horsepower or shp) in this turbine family.
An optimized propulsion system
While the core of the Tech TP is identical to that of the Ardiden 3, the other components of the demonstrator have been designed or adapted for the needs of the program: a specific gear to drive the accessories, speed reduction and power transfer to the propeller, an air inlet specially designed to promote flow inside the nacelle, a nozzle improving residual thrust, a digital control system controlling both engine power and propeller pitch…
“Our expertise in this power range and our integration capabilities have enabled us to optimize the overall performance of the propulsion system, including the gas generator, the nacelle, the air inlet and the propeller,” explains Sébastien Detry. Tech TP achieves a 15% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to turboprop engines currently in service, with a reduction in noise emissions of at least 3 dBA**.
The first tests, which began in June 2019 at the Tarnos (Landes) site, confirm these objectives. They should continue until the end of 2020 on a hybrid configuration of the Tech TP, including “more electric” technologies integrated into the gearbox and the propeller pitch control system. Ultimately, the validated technological solutions can be used in the design of turboprop engines for light aviation, regional aircraft with less than 20 seats and unmanned aerial vehicles.
* Safran Helicopter Engines, Safran Nacelles, Safran Transmission Systems.
** A-weighted decibels. An expression of the relative loudness of sounds in air as perceived by the human ear.