The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

SAE Close to Completing Guidance on Endurance Tests for Electric Aircraft Engines

SAE International, the global industry association focused on establishing engineering standards in the mobility sector, is working on new guidance for companies developing electric propulsion systems for aircraft. The group’s E-40 Committee on Electrified Propulsion aims to publish by year-end its ARP8689 Endurance Tests for Aircraft Electric Engines document on the durability and integrity testing for new electric engines.

The document will set out recommended practices covering test procedures that will ensure that all failure modes are fully addressed. The SAE committee says that having a common approach across the rapidly developing electric aviation sector will fulfill the need to demonstrate the safe operation of electric engines under all operational limits and also to establish the duration of their service lives.

An urgent need exists to be able to consistently demonstrate both these aspects of an electric motor’s performance, according to Richard Ambroise, chair of the E-40 Committee and head of propelling at Airbus. “Before electrical engines power traditional or even radically new design aircraft, these engines will be required to demonstrate both endurance and durability,” he said.

Both EASA and the FAA recently published their proposed regulatory frameworks for certifying electric and hybrid-electric propulsion systems. SAE believes that the guidance in the new ARP8689 document will help the industry to meet the regulators’ requirements.

SAE’s E-40 Committee first met in March 2019 and has brought together more than 240 experts, including regulators and people from industry and academia. The group has included representatives from companies developing eVTOL aircraft, as well as commercial aviation and helicopter manufacturers. Yves Cousineau from Transport Canada led the ARP8689 working group.

The new document will add to SAE's existing collection of reports covering technology in the advanced air mobility sector. These already include ARP8676 (nomenclature and definitions for electrified propulsion aircraft), AIR8678 (architecture examples for electrified propulsion aircraft), and ARP8677 (safety considerations for electrified propulsion aircraft).