New Turboprop Engine to be Designed for European UAV Applications

Safran Helicopter Engines has announced that it has partnered with ZF Luftfahrttechnik GmbH (ZFL) and MT-Propeller to design a new turboprop engine for European unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) applications. The new engine will be based on Safran’s Ardiden 3 rotorcraft engine, with additional technologies that have been matured through the company’s recent Tech TP technological demonstrator program.

The Tech TP is part of the Clean Sky 2 research and innovation program, aiming to validate the technologies required to develop a new-generation turboprop engine capable of achieving 15% lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions than current engines.

The Ardiden 3 is a compact, modular turboshaft engine for rotary aircraft in the 1,700 to 2,000 shp power range. Its EASA-certified versions have already completed over 10,000 hours of tests, and over 250 units of previous versions of the Ardiden are already in service, with over 200,000 real-world flight hours.

The new engine will be optimized for operation at medium and high altitudes up to 45,000 feet, and will feature a unique throttle and a full authority digital engine and propeller control (FADEPC) for power and propeller pitch. MT-Propeller will be responsible for the turboprop engine’s propeller, and aviation technology firm ZFL will handle the PAGB (propeller and accessory gearbox).

Bruno Bellanger, Safran Helicopter Engines EVP Programs, commented: “This partnership lays the foundation of a solid cooperation between renowned actors in the field of aircraft propulsion. It will offer the European aerospace industry a 100% European engine solution for new unmanned applications, featuring high levels of design maturity and competitive operating and maintenance costs.”