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Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Electric and hybrid propulsion system for aircraft

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April 6, 2015

JAXA completes successful flight tests on its electric propulsion system for aircraft

JAXA performed final flight tests on its electric propulsion system for aircraft in the FEATHER project in February 2015 at the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Gifu Air Base.
For the final tests, JAXA brought the electric motor-driven glider that it had performed test flights with up to an altitude of approximately 2,000 ft. and flew in a traffic pattern around the Gifu Air Base runway. The tests not only demonstrated that JAXA’s electric propulsion system delivers the necessary levels of performance (in terms of motor output power, torque, battery voltage, current, and system temperature, etc.) but also showed that JAXA’s unique power regeneration function allows the propeller and motor to generate electric power as the aircraft is descending—while also serving as a substitute air brake—and that the redundant motor system ensures better fault tolerance in flight. Through the FEATHER project, JAXA has successfully demonstrated the following:

  1. Avoidance of complete thrust loss in engine failure during climb by using the fourfold electric motor
  2. Regeneration of electricity during descent by using the motor and propeller
  3. Control of descent rate by regenerating without a conventional airbrake
  4. Continuous “regenerative soaring” free from descent in thermal conditions

Photos and videos of the tests are also available on the JAXA Digital Archives.

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