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Optimised Electric Network Architectures and Systems for More-Electric Aircraft

The European research project ORCHESTRA is developing optimised electrical power network architectures and systems for future More-Electric Aircraft.

The electrification of aircraft began with secondary systems such as de-icing or actuators. The next step is now to electrify the powertrain of the upcoming generation of aircraft. This offers significant advantages, such as a reductions in aircraft weight, fuel and total life cycle costs, higher reliability, and easier maintenance. To enable the transition to a much more electrified aircraft, the EU-funded ORCHESTRA project aims to develop and deliver a holistic framework of innovative, modular, scalable technology building blocks.

The main quantitative goals to be achieved by ORCHESTRA include reducing the overall weight of the electrical power network by 25 per cent and improving its efficiency by 10 per cent compared to the current state of the art. The ORCHESTRA consortium will investigate all relevant technical aspects, including electrical architectures, machinery, power management and control, wiring harness solutions, thermal management, electrical energy storage, experimental and virtual testing, and system integration. The consortium partners from academia (Uni Nottingham), research (AIT, CIRA, Fraunhofer), industry (Leonardo Aircraft, Safran) and SMEs (Aeromechs, BSIM, Skylife Engineering) were selected for their world-leading expertise in the relevant technology areas. The involvement of VR-ASP, with its decades of experience in aircraft certification, ensures that the technology building blocks delivered through ORCHESTRA are designed with a clear path to certification from the outset. The European Aviation Safety Agency EASA is involved in ORCHESTRA through the Industrial Advisory Board.

In ORCHESTRA, AIT is conducting a technology exploration of future solid-state batteries and battery modules for aviation. As the market maturity of this generation of battery technologies is only expected in about 5-10 years, the conceptualisation of the More-Electric Aircraft battery system is supported by a combination of experimental fabrication and characterisation of solid-state battery cell prototypes and numerical modelling.



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101006771 (ORCHESTRA).