Testing the “brain” of the hybrid powertrain

Managing the propulsion of an innovative hybrid aircraft is not an easy task. It requires a complex system to accurately and safely supply the motor with enough electric power. The Power Management, Control, and Delivery (PMCD) unit is the brain of the MAHEPA hybrid powertrain. It can decide which is the best source of energy in each phase of the flight to offer a greener experience while ensuring safety and enhancing the economics of the aircraft.

Before being cleared for flight, the PMCD will have to go through an exhaustive phase of testing, verification, and validation. Reliability is vital to ensure the safety of the passengers as well as people on the ground. This test phase has to be thoroughly planned: from the definition of the system requirements to the creation of tests to verify every functionality of the PMCD, no detail has to be left out. All this is included in the PMCD System Test Plan document.

Is it better to use the combustion engine generator? Do we need an extra boost from the batteries during takeoff? Can we rely on pure battery power during taxiing for a quieter experience? At every second, while in flight or on the ground, the PMCD will have to decide how much energy to request from each of the available power sources, depending on their capabilities and current status.

The impact of every possible malfunction was analyzed to ensure sufficient redundancy and robustness from the original design. Identifying as many potential safety issues as possible during the design phase is the key to avoid unsafe situations during flight testing and aircraft operation.

All this work will provide the basis for the development and certification of similar hybrid powertrains in the future.