[SIZE="4"]More Electrical Research Aircraft in the air[/SIZE]
More Electrical Research Aircraft (MERA) took-off from the Saab airfield today with test pilot Fredrik Müchler at the controls. MERA is a research project that is focusing on the development of a powerful electric propulsion system.
Image: Up to 1,000 metres MERA were towed, thereafter it flew by its own engines. Photo Per Kustvik, Condesign.
MERA is a project that was started on the initiative of the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, FMV. The aim is to increase knowledge about future electronic power technology with high currents and voltages. In this case, it was mainly electric motors, power electronics and batteries. The project's goal was to develop a demonstrator which would complete a number of flight passes using the new electric propulsion system.
"The flight went well. We made two passes and managed a top speed of 250 km/h," says test pilot Fredrik Müchler after landing.
The platform for the demonstrator is a powered sailplane whose original internal combustion engine has been replaced by the new electric propulsion system.
"The electric motor is driven by powerful lithium-ion batteries which provide 20 kilowatts with a thrust of about 600 to 700 N," says Jan Hansson, project manager for MERA at Saab Aerosystems.
Using the new propulsion system, the aircraft can cover a distance of just over 200 kilometres.
Image: MERA took-off from Saab airfield in Linköping, Sweden, this morning. Photo Per Kustvik, Condesign.
The project has required those involved to have a practical knowledge of handling high voltage levels and the lithium-ion batteries have also been trialled during a few Gripen
"In environmental terms, electric motor applications are the sound of the future in aircraft. Everything is about energy optimisation, which is part of the EU project JTI Clean Sky, in order to develop more environmentally-friendly aircraft", says Jan Hansson.
"We are considering using lithium-ion batteries in future versions of Gripen. They are vastly more powerful and lighter than the old batteries”, says Jan Hansson.
A spin-off from the MERA project has been the electric cylinder actuators, which Saab sold to the Boeing 787.