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Qualified Drivetrain for Electric Flight

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - QualE-fly (Qualified Drivetrain for Electric Flight)

Reporting period: 2020-12-01 to 2021-11-30

Aviation is a significant contributor to climate change, responsible for 2% of global CO2 emissions and 3.7% within the EU. To deliver sustainable regional and global air connectivity emissions need to decrease through a mix of technical innovations, more efficient flights, and new sources of energy. Electrification of aviation is a key element to reach the aviation sectors global goals to 2050.

Electric aviation offers solutions to address these global challenges, by presenting the following advantages:
● High speed – Makes high-speed mobility accessible outside large cities by utilizing the vast stock of general aviation airports located closer to the passenger’s origin and destination. Halves door-to-door travel times. Enables transport of high value, time sensitive cargo.
● Accessible and Equitable – Electric aircraft can operate from very short runways, connecting remote populations and industries separated by geographic barriers such as fjords and mountains or without land-based infrastructure such as road or rail.
● Clean Skies – Feasible to electrify all short haul flights by 2035, making them zero direct emissions. Public health benefits of reduced pollution and noise and cleaner skies.
● Affordable – 50 to 70% lower direct operating costs benchmarked to comparable fossil fuel powered aircraft, underpinned by lower energy and maintenance costs.

Heart Aerospace’s innovation is called QualE-fly - a self-contained certifiable electric drivetrain module which is being developed according to stringent regulatory requirements. A certifiable electric drivetrain is the key to unlock the clean power and disruptive economics of the electric airliner, which has the potential to supercharge the long-atrophying regional air travel market while cutting emissions.

The EIC Accelerator Green Deal’s support of Heart’s QualE-fly proposal will mature the certifiable electric drivetrain to Technology Readiness Level TRL7. This will enable Heart to undertake an extensive flight test validation program in 2023, certify and commercialize the innovation by 2025.
During the reporting period, several activities have been performed to mature the QualE-fly drivetrain. To establish a basis for certification, and to follow the systems development approach, we have performed several front end activities. This includes:
- Establishment of a Certification department
- Initiating the work for TC application
- Creating the Design Organization Handbook
- Elicitation of market requirements on aircraft level in close collaboration with potential airline customers
- System level design of the QualE-fly, including aircraft functional development and system functional development, as well as establishing the interfaces towards other systems in the aircraft architecture
- Breakdown of market requirements on the system architecture, taking the market requirements as basis
- Issuing Request for Information (RFIs) to several possible suppliers to scout the market for industrialized solutions and potential future partners (design partners, component suppliers, or manufacturing partners).

Several activities on inhouse development have also been performed. This includes:
- Testing of version 1 motor controller for Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI)
- A complete redesign of the motor controller and issuing a version 2 of the controller
- Manufacturing and assembling a full scale prototype of the motor controller version 2
- Integration tests with the battery design, not at full power (50kW).
- Building a hardware test rig for the motor controller, using grid power to be able to test different load cases
- Performance tests of the motor controller at full current and voltage
- Assessment of the motor from Phase, including interfacing with the in-house developed version 2 motor controller
In terms of societal impact, the project aims to grow awareness of the climate crisis and the urgent need to decarbonize our entire economy, including aviation. We aim to raise the need for large scale introduction of both biojet and electric aircrafts to change negative public perception of air travel as people link flying to their carbon footprint and the impacts of climate change. To address this, we have communicated our results in public press as well as dedicated forums for aviation. A few examples of communication about the seriousness of the company are:
- Collaboration with AernNova as supplier for structures https://aviationweek.com/air-transport/aircraft-propulsion/aernnova-provide-airframe-hearts-electric-regional
- Orders for 200 airplanes from United and Mesa Airlines https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-07-13/united-air-mesa-ink-deal-for-up-to-200-small-electric-planes
- Talks of Electric Aviation in general https://cleantechnica.com/2021/10/29/heart-aerospace-ceo-talks-electric-airplanes-200-plane-pre-orders-part-1/

The future plan for bringing the results beyond the state of the art on a technical level is to have a drivetrain for aviation that is certifiable. Some steps there have been achieved, such as defining the system architecture, including integration with batteries and systems, defining high level requirements for the drivetrain and engaging suppliers for parts of the drivetrain.
Test rig for motor and motor controller
Motor controller v2 physical prototype
Motor controller v2 design, including casing