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Tech TP demonstrator forges ahead

Demonstrator launch: Tech TP engine with 7-blade propeller on the test stand

Clean Sky's Tech TP engine demonstrator project paves the way for a 100% European-built sustainable, low fuel and low noise engine for use on general aviation and small commuter sized aircraft (up to 19 passengers), and is on track for the next phases of its development and testing regimes.

‘Tech TP (TP = turboprop) enables us to offer a 100% European solution for customers, boosting European aviation's competitiveness. It's also a matter of sustainability – 15% CO2 savings means that fuel burn savings will occur, cutting costs for aircraft operators,’ says Sebastien Detry, project manager for Ardiden 3C and Clean Sky 2 at Safran Helicopter Engines, the company leading this Clean Sky 2 project. 

He explains the underlying technical premise of Tech TP, which is based on an Ardiden 3 core engine developed for helicopter application and is already certified by EASA. ‘We have adapted this core engine to transform it into a turboprop for use in the general and regional aviation market. We also developed and integrated a power and accessory gearbox into the Tech TP demonstrator to drive the accessories as well as the propeller. A seven-blade propeller has also been developed with our partner MT-P, and it aims to be very efficient and very quiet.’

Essentially, this project involves adapting a gas turbine engine, originally intended for use in a helicopter, to an aircraft turboprop application. To do that, new design innovations are required for the nacelle, control system, propeller, engine mounting system, hydromechanics propeller control components, fuel metering pump, heat exchanger, instrumentation to manage loads, pressure, temperature and vibration and to address engine air flow, plus many other features that must be integrated into the Tech TP demonstrator – the list is extensive.

A total of eleven Clean Sky sub-projects are developing innovative features linked to the TechTP demonstrator project: EVIS, PROPCONEL, ACHIEVE, BEATTI, ACOC, IPANEMA, SALAMANDER, ICTUS, PANTHER, FLORA, LOOPS and FAST TAPS. 

Safran Helicopter Engines’ responsibility is to integrate all specific turboprop technologies together into the Tech TP demonstrator, and the plan for 2020 is to advance the performance test campaign to evaluate the actual benefits.

Tech TP Core Engine
Tech TP Core Engine

‘The final aim of this demonstration is not only to reduce CO2 emissions by 15%, but also to decrease noise levels by up to 5 decibels compared to current engines in service,’ says Sebastien Detry.

‘We expect to reach Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 5 and 6 in the first half of 2020, and by the end of the year we expect to be able to add a mechatronic system to this demonstrator, called ACHIEVE (one of the Clean Sky technological bricks run by University of Nottingham). It is one of our sub-projects that enables us to have a more hybrid-electrical engine based on this Tech TP.’

Tech TP required new design innovations for the nacelle

The demonstrator’s first ground test was carried out in June 2019 in Tarnos (France), and a celebration event was hosted by Safran Helicopter Engines in October 2019. Clean Sky partners and collaborators were invited to the ground test celebration, which provided an opportunity for contributors to see first-hand the fruits of their hard labours, and to meet those involved in other Clean Sky initiatives and projects. 

Speaking about how the Clean Sky European aviation ecosystem enables collaboration between aviation stakeholders, Benoit Grimal, deputy programme manager for R&T at the Technical Directorate of Safran Helicopter Engines, says that ‘clearly it's a great opportunity for Safran because we have the framework, through Clean Sky, to work with all the key industrial players of Europe. Clean Sky has also facilitated opportunities for us to network with smaller companies, SMEs, universities and research technology organisations, and the Tech TP project provides an incentive to work with them. Ultimately this should lead to other opportunities to work together. Tech TP has given everyone an opportunity to be more confident in their relationships with all stakeholders, reinforcing this new network that we can use for the next projects, because we also expect to participate in the future clean aviation partnership,’ says Benoit Grimal. ‘So clearly we've created good relationships which present new opportunities for the next research programme.’

Tech TP first run celebration in Tarnos, France
Tech TP first run celebration in Tarnos, France