European aerospace firm Airbus Group SE unveiled DisruptiveLab this week, which is a new flying laboratory featuring an aluminium fuselage that will test new technology aimed at increasing aircraft performance and reducing carbon emissions.
Among the technology being tested on the platform is an aerodynamic aluminium and composite fuselage that reduces drag and therefore increases fuel efficiency. The platform also features a fully-parallel hybrid propulsion system that allows for in-flight recharging of the on-board battery.
Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters, elaborated upon the project in a related press release.
“The DisruptiveLab goes another step further in Airbus Helicopters’ ambitious strategy to reduce the environmental impact of its helicopters and to lead the way towards a sustainable aerospace industry. The innovative architecture and the fully parallel hybrid propulsion system could only really be tested on a brand new demonstrator in order to verify the combined impact in CO2 reduction which could be as much as 50 percent.”
Expected to make its maiden flight later this month, the DisruptiveLab demonstrator also features propeller blades that are integrated into the rotor, thus reducing the size of the rotor head and, as a result, cuts drag even more. The rear fuselage tapers into a streamlined Fenestron tail rotor that improves performance as well.
Funding from the project comes in part from the French Civil Aviation Authority (DGAC), as it is part of the French Council for Civil Aviation Research Council (CORAC)’s roadmap. The DisruptiveLab demonstrator is also part of the French Stimulus plan, which is itself part of the European Plan, Next Generation EU, and the France 2030 plan.
The DisruptiveLab demonstrator comes on the heels of Airbus’s FlightLab, which debuted in 2020. FlightLab utilized an H130 aircraft, whereas DisruptiveLab is an all-new craft meant to improve performance and lower the vehicle’s carbon production.