Airbus Helicopters’ high-compression V8 piston engine demonstrator made its first flight on November 6 from Marignane Airport, France, as part of the European Clean Sky initiative’s Green Rotorcraft Integrated Technology Demonstrator program.
Installed on a H120 test bed, the 4.6-litre V8 engine has the two sets of cylinders oriented at a 90-degree angle to each other, with a high-pressure (1800 bar) common-rail direct injection and one turbocharger per cylinder bank.
Running on aviation kerosene fuel, the engine has fully-machined aluminium blocks and titanium connecting rods, pistons and liners made of steel, liquid-cooling, a dry sump management method for the lubricating motor oil as used on aerobatic aircraft and racing cars.
“The first result of the 30 minutes flight confirms the advantages of new technology high-compression piston engines for rotorcraft in offering reduced emissions – up to 50 per cent lower fuel consumption – depending on duty cycle, nearly doubled range and enhanced operations in hot and high conditions,” said Airbus Helicopters’ head of research and innovation, Tomasz Krysinski.
In the coming months, Airbus Helicopters will undertake further evaluation flights focusing on power-to-weight ratios that would make high-compression engines sustainable alternatives to the turbine engines.
Clean Sky’s goal is to significantly increase environmental performance resulting in quieter and more fuel-efficient aircraft and helicopters while reducing fuel consumption by 30 per cent, CO2 emissions by 40 per cent and NOx by 53 per cent.