Airbus Begins A320 Clean Sky Flight Lab Operations

By Woodrow Bellamy III  | June 29, 2016
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[Avionics Magazine 06-29-2016] Airbus’ A320 MSN1 flight test aircraft has a new mission: to act as a specially equipped airborne flight lab. The veteran flight-test aircraft flew its first flight in this latest configuration earlier this month. 
Airbus A320 aircraft. Photo: Airbus.
The purpose of the A320 Flight Lab project is to exhibit “proof-of-concepts” and accelerate technology development, according to a statement released by Airbus. More specifically, Airbus is investigating the possibilities of a more electrically powered aircraft. Working with several partners and under the umbrella of the European Union (EU)-funded Clean Sky research program, the A320 Flight Lab features a number of on board electrical technologies developed within Clean Sky’s Systems for Green Operations (SGO) initiative. These technologies include: an electrical environmental control system, an electrical power center supplied by Airbus and Thales, a scoop inlet with acoustic and anti-ice systems supplied by Sandit consortium and Airbus, and a primary in-flight icing detection system supplied by Zodiac Aerospace.

The flight-test campaign will evaluate robustness, performance and integration of these technologies over the A320 flight test aircraft’s operating envelope. A key characteristic for the Flight Lab program is interchangeability. To this end, the aircraft features a newly developed Electrical Power Center (EPC) located in the forward cargo bay, which contains several types of voltage networks, including a high voltage DC network. During the first flight, the EPC was used to power a new air conditioning architecture. In addition, next-generation sensors and new fuel gauging equipment are also being evaluated. 

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