The development of alternative propulsion in the aeronautical sector is driven by the need to reduce the environmental impact of aircraft but also to reduce operational costs by developing new markets such as urban air mobility. In this area, Leonardo is exploring, with different levels of maturity, technologies for electric propulsion in various forms: hybrid, full electric, hydrogen, fuel cells or direct hydrogen combustion.
This research area focuses on the electrification of aircraft and helicopter propulsion, which is essential for the development of fixed and rotary wing aircraft that meet the growing de-carbonisation requirements set by the New European Green Deal. This technology is critical to the next generation of manned and unmanned platforms for use in air mobility.
The electrification of platforms is not limited exclusively to propulsion; it also involves the integration of equipment such as landing gear and tail rotors, as well as electrical systems, where it is possible to achieve lighter and less bulky wiring.
As a propulsion systems integrator, Leonardo is studying storage systems (tanks) on the ground and on airborne platforms, as well as power and control systems.
This research area focuses on:
- Conducting an exploratory phase to analyse and evaluate the most suitable hybrid platforms and architectures, within the framework of large European consortia or large-scale international partnerships in collaboration with other important industrial partners
- Designing and testing selected architectures
- Integrating this technology into a real demonstrator
- Conducting conceptual research on future hybrid regional civil aircraft (approximately 50 seats)
- Performing basic studies on different energy sources (batteries, fuel cells), in collaboration with leading storage companies, and developing energy management schemes.
The Leonardo Labs tasked with developing skills in the field of electrification across all business areas are: