Aviation R&D centre to support ‘more electric aircraft’

1 min read

Looking to support the design, development and manufacturing of high reliability intelligent power solutions, Microsemi is opening an Aviation Centre of Excellence at its European headquarters in Ireland.

Siobhan Dolan Clancy, Microsemi’s vp of aerospace business development, said the move had been made in response to growing demand for so called ‘more electric aircraft’. “The latest aircraft are using electrical, rather than hydraulic and mechanical, equipment. This is fuelling demand for intelligent power electronics, as well as analogue and digital parts.”

According to Dolan Clancy, the amount of power generated on aircraft has quadrupled, with a Boeing 777 now capable of generating 1MW. This, in turn, requires more efficient use of power, with two main markets developing. “The electrical power conversion market will be worth around $18million by 2020, while the actuation market is growing by 36%,” she said. “Both sectors are being driven by environmental impact and the need for less weight and greater reliability.”

One of the short term developments at the centre will be an aviation power core module (PCM), expected to appear ‘in the next six months or so’. Featuring an integrated FPGA and hybrid power drive (HPD) stage, the PCM will control electric motors in applications such as primary flight control and landing gear. The HPD will also available as a standalone product with an integrated solenoid drive.

Dolan Clancy noted that Microsemi is investing in silicon carbide (SiC) technology for aerospace applications. “The industry has been reluctant to use SiC in flight critical applications, but nobody has yet tested SiC against a mission profile,” she said. “Microsemi is doing this work, influencing design and pushing towards higher temperature capability and better performance.”