Ampaire wins $150,000 from NASA small business programme


Ampaire has won a $150,000 Phase 1 award from NASA under its Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) programme. 

The award, to be used on Ampaire’s High Efficiency Powertrain for Hybrid Aircraft (HEPHA) project, will fund sizing, architecture and other analytical studies over a six month period. A potential Phase 2 award would fund the installation and testing on Ampaire’s Cessna Skymaster testbed aircraft, the ARPA-E Bird. 

The Skymaster has been used for research by the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E advanced programmes unit before. It will play a role in a $9m ARPA-E SCALEUP award announced in November that will eventually be certified on Ampaire’s Eco Caravan.

Kevin Noertker, Ampaire CEO said: “These wins from NASA and the DOE recognise Ampaire’s leadership in electrified aviation. They also recognise the near-term potential to field hybrid-electric aircraft that will revolutionise aviation by lowering emissions and the cost of travel.”

Under the new NASA SBIR program, the ARPA-E Bird would be equipped with a hybrid propulsion drivetrain in the nose and an electric drive system in the rear for a multi-mode hybrid system. 

The new AMP Drive AMP-H270 powertrain is a 270 kW system that has about half the power output of the AMP-H570 system that powers the Eco Caravan. 

The new drive system combines a DHK180A4 compression ignition engine from DeltaHawk Engines with an integrated electrical drive designed by Ampaire. The DeltaHawk engine runs on Jet-A and compatible sustainable aviation fuels. Ampaire said its solution for the aircraft provides a 45% cruise efficiency gain over conventional combustion engines and double the efficiency of comparable gas turbines.