Comparison of candidate architectures for future distributed propulsion aircraft

Catherine E. Jones, Patrick J. Norman, Stuart J. Galloway, Michael J. Armstrong, Andrew M. Bollman

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74 Citations (Scopus)
235 Downloads (Pure)


Turbine engine driven distributed electrical aircraft power systems (also referred to as Turboelectric Distributed Propulsion (TeDP)) are proposed for providing thrust for future aircraft with superconducting components operating at 77K in order for performance and emissions targets to be met. The proposal of such systems presents a radical change from current state-of-the-art aero-electrical power systems. Central to the development of such power systems are architecture design trades which must consider system functionality and performance, system robustness and fault ride-through capability, in addition to the balance between mass and efficiency. This paper presents a quantitative comparison of the three potential candidate architectures for TeDP electrical networks. This analysis provides the foundations for establishing the feasibility of these different architectures subject to design and operational constraints. The findings of this paper conclude that a purely AC synchronous network performs best in terms of mass and efficiency, but similar levels of functionality and controllability to an architecture with electrical decoupling via DC cannot readily be achieved. If power electronic converters with cryocoolers are found to be necessary for functionality and controllability purposes, then studies show that a significant increase in the efficiency of solid state switching components is necessary to achieve specified aircraft performance targets.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3601409
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Applied Superconductivity
Issue number6
Early online date16 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016


  • distributed electrical aircraft propulsion
  • superconducting power systems
  • turbo-electric distributed propulsion


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