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Zunum Aero and Safran Helicopter Engines to deliver electric commercial aircraft

Zunum Aero’s hybrid aircraft will reduce operating costs by 60-80%

Zunum Aero, a pioneer in electric aviation, has selected Safran Helicopter Engines for its hybrid-to-electric commercial aircraft, which will be available in the early 2020s.

Safran Helicopter Engines will provide a new generation engine turbine to drive the Zunum ZA10’s electrical generator. This turbo-generator will power a 12-seat, hybrid-to-electric 700-mile commercial aircraft, driving extraordinarily low operating costs, offering unprecedented door-to-door travel times that are 2-4 times faster than today.

Zunum expects to light up 30,000 airports around the world with frequent and affordable air service.

The Zunum aircraft under development, internally dubbed the ZA10, is the first in the company’s family of regional, hybrid-to-electric aircraft. It will be powered by dual power sources: propulsion batteries, and a Safran turboshaft from the 1,700-2,000 shaft horsepower (shp) Ardiden range.

This new model, the Ardiden 3Z, will be used as a hybrid power source achieving demanding cost, efficiency and uptime requirements. It will be coupled with an electric generator, and the integrated turbo-generator will deliver 500 kW of electric power to supplement the battery packs on key stages of flight and over long ranges.

Upgrades such as advanced materials and integrated lifecycle management for hybrid service will dramatically reduce operating costs of the engine by extending the life of critical components.

The new aircraft will deliver breakthrough operating costs of 8 cents per available seat mile or US$250 per hour for the aircraft, which is 60-80% lower than comparable conventional aircraft of comparable size.

The ZA10 aircraft is designed to cruise and land on turbo-generator power alone, offering full redundancy.

Zunum’s selection of Safran is a critical step towards realising the delivery of an economical, efficient hybrid-to-electric aircraft by the early 2020s. Because a key element of the MW-class hybrid-to-electric powertrain is a 500-kW-capable gas turbine that is compact, lightweight and highly efficient, to complement the propulsion batteries onboard, Safran’s proven expertise made the partnership a natural decision.

“Today marks a significant milestone on the path to delivery of the ZA10,” said co-founder and CTO of Zunum Aero Matt Knapp. “The Zunum ZA10 aircraft will bring breakthrough performance to regional aviation, paving the way to fast, electrified, affordable high-speed air services to communities everywhere.”

Safran Helicopter Engines EVP OEM Sales Florent Chauvancy added: “The Ardiden 3Z represents a very powerful complement to the ZA10 because of its exceptional performance, along with low operating and maintenance costs. This announcement marks a new step forward in demonstrating Safran ability to offer hybrid propulsive solutions for tomorrow’s mobility solutions.”

Near-term milestones include ground and flight testing scheduled for 2019, as well delivery of the ZA10 aircraft targeted for the early 2020s.

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