Back-up electric power “will save pilots’ lives”

Light aircraft are exciting and convenient – but if an engine fails it can be disastrous. Seventy people every year die when two-or-four-seater aircraft crash.

Spanish firm Axter Aerospace and researchers at Madrid’s UC3M University say they have the answer – a backup electric powered engine.

Axter co-founder and pilot Miguel Suarez.:  “The worst case scenario is when you are taking off and the engine fails…..You try to land but the accident is ensured, it will occur. So, in this case, we avoid this accident, so we allow the pilot to go back and land safely in the airport.”

Fitted to the propellers, the engine is connected to an on-board lithium battery and electronic motor controller.

When the petrol engine fails, a pilot flicks a switch and the electric system takes over.

Co-founder and Chief Engineer Daniel Cristobal says it will allow pilots to fly for an extra 20 kilometers.  “The motor controllers manages the electric motor of our system. This controller is able to give 40 kilowatts, only with six kilograms, and this is the lithium battery…..The pilot has an instrument in the cockpit and in case of an emergency the pilot only wants to turn the push button and give more power, for seven minutes power.”

There are other benefits too.

“The system is not only a security system, it’s also a hybrid system that permits to add more power to the main engine when you need more power, for example during the take-off you can have until (up to) 40 horsepower extra power.”

It also lowers fuel consumption and reduces emissions and noise pollution.

The system can be retrofitted to existing aircraft and was recently displayed at the Paris Airshow.

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