Clean Sky to test all-electric cabin air system on A320

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European researchers are planning to flight-test bleedless air conditioning and wing anti-ice demonstrator systems on an Airbus A320 under the region’s Clean Sky environmental programme in 2015.


The objective of the trials is to assess the technology for a new-generation single-aisle aircraft that could enter service beyond 2020, says Nicolas Bonleux, executive vice-president sales and marketing for Liebherr-Aerospace and Transportation, the supplier of the air conditioning demonstrator system. Airbus opted for a bleed air-based cabin air system on the re-engined A320neo, which is due to enter service in 2015. But some of the system components, such as valves, will be electrically actuated instead of having conventional pneumatic mechanisms.


Switzerland-headquartered engineering group Liebherr is testing an all-electric air conditioning pack for narrowbody-sized aircraft at its facility in Toulouse, where its aerospace division is based and air-management systems are being manufactured.


Bonleux says that Liebherr has been working on all-electric cabin air systems for 12 years and developed the current demonstrator air-conditioning equipment over the past five years.


The manufacturer showed a turbo compressor at Farnborough air show in 2012, which would be required on bleedless aircraft to generate pressurised air for the cabin air system.


The major challenge of such bleedless cabin air systems will be to ensure the increased electricity demand and to manage the power distribution between peaks and troughs in energy consumption across the aircraft's systems, says Bonleux.


Aside from the electrical environmental control system in the cabin, the test aircraft will also be equipped with several different wing ice protection systems, says Clean Sky, a joint venture between the European Union and the region’s aerospace industry.


It has not yet been decided whether the tests will be conducted on an Airbus-owned A320 or an aircraft by a programme partner, such as German aerospace research centre DLR, says Clean Sky.