The APU60 on the road to civil certification

The new-concept power source developed by Microturbo (Safran) cleared its flight tests last spring as part of the AgustaWestland AW189 helicopter certification campaign. Named e-APU60, it is the first auxiliary power unit to supply electrical power. Thierry Gourmanel, head of sales and customer support at Microturbo, tells us more about it.

What new features make the e-APU60 so special?
Whereas all the auxiliary power units (APUs) currently on the market supply pneumatic energy in the form of bleed air, the e-APU60 supplies electrical power. This new breakthrough system has been fully optimized for more-electric aircraft and helicopters. It comes with significant advances so can meet the most demanding customer requirements. With a 25% smaller volume, it is more compact and offers a better power-to-weight ratio, delivering between 15 and 90 kW of power. The e-APU60 provides power to start the main engines on the ground and run the electrical systems and cabin air-conditioning. It also contributes to flight safety: it can restart the main engines in the event of failure and provide a backup power source for the aircraft's vital electrical systems.

What stage is the development of this program at?
The e-APU60's civil certification campaign is going to plan and we have already delivered four systems to AgustaWestland. Another seven e-APUs are currently involved in a particularly stringent test program that will run till the end of the year and which includes altitude and temperature tests, vibration tests, block tests (where the engine is pushed to the limits of its endurance) and retention tests. These tests are a major step in the certification process and are used to validate the system's reliability and endurance in the most extreme operating conditions. We expect to obtain its civil certification in early 2013.

How does the e-APU60 fit into Microturbo's strategy?
Microturbo has traditionally been positioned on the military market. With the e-APU60, we are now aiming for the civil markets and especially business and regional aviation. We are therefore endeavoring to offer complete, integrated systems backed by a broader range of services. In 2011, we signed a partnership agreement with Hamilton Sundstrand, the world's second-ranking supplier of bleed APUs. We have subsequently submitted a joint bid to Bombardier for its Global 7000 and 8000 business jets. In a broader perspective, Microturbo's strategy is to continue its expansion by drawing on the Group's centers of expertise (Safran Electronics, Safran Composites, etc.) to develop its specific APU know-how, mainly in the fields of acoustics, reliability and civil certification.