Today, turbine engines produce thrust for the aircraft and power the drive vehicle systems and utilities. Conventional jet fuel has hard to beat performance and the engine performance is greatly improved thanks to innovative configurations. The energy revolution is, therefore, focused on alternative ways to power vehicle systems and utilities. Recent progress in power electronics and electrical motor technologies promise to replace conventional hydraulic and pneumatic systems by electrically-driven ones. This was the aim of the EU-funded project BESTT (Development, construction and integration of bench systems for ground thermal tests). BESTT brought together manufacturers and suppliers of aircraft equipment with experts in modelling and engineering of complex plants as well as the implementation of test benches. Until its completion in December 2014, different energy management architectures were evaluated on an aircraft representative fuselage. Several fuselage parts were integrated into the flight testing facility of the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Holzkirchen, Germany. In this unique test bench, the fuselage parts can be exposed to outer skin conditions ranging from -55 degrees Celsius up to +80 degrees Celsius. Moreover, low pressure conditions simulating flight conditions were successfully reproduced. An air treatment unit and a powerful air conditioning unit for cabin air supply ensured that the environment in the cabin mimicked real aircraft conditions. Combining realistic outdoor conditions with precise interior environment control, this technology demonstrator could be used to carry out high accuracy tests for thermal management on the ground. To guarantee the operational functionality of the test bench, extensive checks were conducted by the consortium partners within the 38 month-long BESTT project. However, significant technological progress is necessary before electrical components could compete with their conventional counterparts that have fully matured. The technology quest has just started.
Thermal management, electric aircraft, test bench, turbine engine, electrical motor technologies