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Avio Aero, Selex ES to Develop Hybrid Engines for Unmanned Aircraft

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Avio Aero and Finmeccanica - Selex ES Team Up to Develop Hybrid Engines For Unmanned Aircraft

(Source: Avio Aero; issued October 20, 2015)


RIVALTA DI TORINO, Italy --- Avio Aero, a GE Aviation business, has teamed up with Finmeccanica - Selex ES to develop a hybrid electric propulsion system for use on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The partnership is part of a € 5 million research project called “Hybrid energy management for aeronautical applications” financed through the framework research agreement between the Puglia regional government and the Italian Ministry for Universities and Research. The implementing body is the Puglia Aerospace Technology District (DTA).

The two-year project led by Avio Aero with the participation of the Polytechnic University of Bari, the University of Salento and the CNR (National Research Council) of Messina has the goal of studying a hybrid propulsion architecture based on the combination of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor and developing the relevant enabling technologies. This will enable the traditional propulsion architecture of a UAV to be compared with one or more hybrid architectures in terms of specific consumption, weight and performance. For this purpose, Avio Aero will use the Falco EVO unmanned aircraft system built by Finmeccanica - Selex ES as the reference platform.

The Falco EVO is an upgrade of the original Falco and is compatible with the main flight and ground components of its forerunner. It is a remotely piloted aircraft system capable of performing surveillance missions with a duration of up to 20 hours. An outstanding product in the UAV segment, the Falco EVO can carry a payload of up to 100 kg, fly at an altitude of 6,000 meters and conduct missions with an operating range of more than 200 km in line of sight.

“This Italian project marks a major step forward for Avio Aero in the UAV sector, a market segment with outstanding growth prospects where we can offer innovative technologies based on our continuous investments in R&D,” commented Paolo Salvetti, Vice President Sales Advanced Systems & UAV at Avio Aero. “This goal has been achieved thanks to the work of our engineers at the Energy Factory in Bari, the multidisciplinary laboratory that was set up in 2010 in cooperation with the Polytechnic University of Bari.

A successful model of a partnership between the worlds of business and university, it fits in with Avio Aero’s established network of relationships with national institutions including the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, development and regional research support agencies, and the Technology Districts, especially in Piedmont, Campania and Puglia.”

“The project led by our partner Avio Aero is part of the initiatives and programs launched by the District to support new automation technologies, while the Puglia aerospace system – and in particular Taranto-Grottaglie airport – offers appropriate infrastructure for development and testing,” said Giuseppe Acierno, Chairman of the Aerospace Technology District.

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