TT Electronics Builds Aeronautics Business with Safran Contract and Excelitas Acquisition; Arnold Magnetics Partners with Safran in a Similar Aircraft Electrification Project

Teaming up with aerospace firm Safran, TT Electronics and Arnold Magnetic Technologies are taking part in aviation electrification programs backed by the UK government. Separately, TT has further advanced its capabilities in the market with its recent acquisition of the power supply business of Excelitas.

Based in Woking, UK, TT is a global provider of engineered electronics including many magnetic components. In August, it announced that it will receive funding from Innovate UK for furthering innovation in the nation’s civil aerospace industry. The funds have been awarded to participants in the Aerospace Electric Propulsion, Controls & Machines project led by French aerospace giant Safran.  Over the next five years, TT will receive an overall award of £620,157 with the majority funded within the next three. TT said its grant will be allocated primarily to support and accelerate the development of more electric aircraft via the company’s increasingly integrated power electronics solutions designed specifically for deployment in propulsion and control system applications.

“TT is firmly committed to ensuring we play our part in creating and supporting the future of the aerospace and defense industry,” said Julian Thomas, engineering director at TT. “This ATI Program recognition supports our pledge to advance industry progress with more electric aircraft – an initiative that is of critical environmental importance, especially over the next few years.”

“TT Electronics, being a recognized and competent supplier of electronic power conversion equipment to the aerospace industry, has been selected as part of the consortium to work on the pivotal AEPEC project, which will deliver key technologies for the future of flight,” said Naveed Sheikh, head of research and technology for the rotating machines business line at Safran Electrical & Power UK Ltd.

Through several contracts, Safran Power UK has been tasked to work with supply chain partners on all aspects of electrical power systems and energy usage on future technology aircraft. The scope of the most recent project covers generation, control, starter-generator function and electrical actuation for the More Electric Aircraft program including variants in regional jets, business jets and advanced rotorcraft. As the technology developed for electrical machinery and associated control electronics is intrinsically modular, scalable and flexible, the partnership’s work program will also address aspects of electrical hybrid propulsion for vertical and conventional take-off-and landing vehicles.

Earlier this year, Safran was joined by Arnold Magnetic Technologies Ltd, based in Sheffield, UK, in a similar partnership. AEMTA, the Advanced Electrical Machines Technologies for Aircraft, is a large research and technology project, led by Safran Power UK and working with an extensive supply base of companies and academic researchers addressing high performance and environmentally robust electrical products for aircraft electrification. University of Newcastle was also a partner in the project, aiming to develop novel electrical machine topologies and environmentally robust electrical conductors.

Safran’s ENGINEus motor for future hybrid and electric aircraft

Safran Electrical & Power is one of the world market leaders in electrical systems in aeronautics, number 1 in wiring and number 2 in power systems. A key player in the field of more electric aircraft, the company employs more than 13,000 people in 12 countries, part of the Safran Group which has 84,000 employees worldwide.

In 2018, it unveiled its ENGINeUS motors designed for future hybrid and electric aircraft, shown above and in top photo. Its first model, the ENGINeUS 45 motor, has a continuous power of 45kW. It has built-in, dedicated control electronics with an energy efficiency of over 94%. It has a power-to-weight ratio of 2.5kW/kg at 2,500rpm.

By integrating the power electronics into the engine, the smart motor saves weight. It has fewer cables and filters and only uses a radiator. Saving weight means reducing costs by about 30%. Plans call for the product line to eventually include a range of electric motors with a power output of up to 500kW.

“We are proud to present this cutting-edge equipment that boasts top-level aeronautical performance from an electromagnetic, thermal and mechanical perspective. With this range of engines, we are making a major strategic shift towards the development of vertical take-off and landing, as well as short take-off and landing aircraft, thus opening up promising new markets for Safran,” said Herve Blanc, vice president & general manager of the electrical systems and motors division at Safran Electrical & Power.

In January, TT acquired the aerospace defense and power supply business unit based in Covina, CA of Excelitas Technologies Corp. Headquartered in Waltham, MA, Excelitas is primarily a photonics manufacturer serving a broad range of markets. The Covina unit, however, specializes in designing and manufacturing power electronics for defense and aerospace markets, enhancing TT’s ability to engineer complete power converters and service the customer base.

“The Covina business is a clear fit with TT’s strategy to build leading positions in the aerospace and defense markets where the proliferation of electronics is driving demand for our power solutions,” commented Michael Leahan, executive vice president of power solutions North America for TT. The deal provides access to growth programs with sole-source positions and adds a number of blue-chip US defense primes to TT’s customer base, the company noted.