Electric Motor-Driven Smart Pumps Support More-Electric Aircraft

 Smart pumps support more-electric aircraft with higher efficiency and lower cost - Air Taxi Concept Vehicle - Gas Turbine Fuel Systems DivisionCommercial aircraft original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have been building more-electric aircraft – or MEA – for over a decade. MEA are aircraft that rely on electric power to operate non-propulsion systems such as those for lubrication, flight control, fuel, thermal management, and more. 

Today’s aircraft makers are collaborating with their suppliers to design new systems and implement new electrical-intensive architectures that are key to unlocking such efficiency improvements as lower aircraft weight, better fuel consumption, reduced total life-cycle costs, and enhanced maintainability and reliability.

One such supplier collaboration supporting the move to MEA has been launched by Parker Aerospace Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division (GTFSD).

GTFSD expertise: electric motor-driven smart pumps

Long recognized for its motor-driven pump technology and pedigree in major platforms for both military and commercial applications – particularly for fuel and thermal management pumps – GTFSD is breaking new ground through its development of electric motor-driven smart pumps that can accommodate a wide range of voltage to the digital controller. The motor speed can be controlled by sensors or sensorless, depending on the application. 

Electronic controllers interpret system signals, enabling a pump to respond with a specific flow to meet a specific system demand. Whether for more fuel, enhanced cooling, or greater pressure, this demand flow results in a highly efficient use of the aircraft’s finite energy resources, creating less fuel burn and fewer engine emissions.

In the field: Boeing 787 APU fuel metering unit

Parker Aerospace’s auxiliary power unit (APU) fuel metering unit for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is one such electric motor-driven smart pump already in service. The APU pump unit builds on GTFSD’s experience with electric motor-driven pumps, which includes those for missiles and military UAV applications, as well as for large transport turbine engines.

Smart pumps support more-electric aircraft with higher efficiency and lower cost - 787-Pump - Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division“The innovative APU fuel metering unit replaces conventional engine fuel control for the Boeing 787. Featuring an impeller boost pump and a high-pressure gear element, the two-staged pump assembly integrates 13 components into one and uses an AC- or DC-powered dual-processor digital controller with CAN bus interface to provide precise fuel flow in response to engine demand.” 

– Rick Mossey, engine systems business development manager, Parker Aerospace, Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division

Enhanced reliability is a key benefit of the APU pump unit. With 500-plus units fielded to date, the product is performing well. 

In development: high-voltage motor-driven main engine feed pump (MEFP)

GTFSD has developed a 270-volt, 27-horsepower brushless DC (BLDC) motor-driven, high-pressure main engine feed smart pump that is currently in testing. With a simplified system design and lower system procurement cost, the new pump unit improves both pump efficiency and system reliability. It includes an electric motor, BLDC motor controller, impeller, and high-pressure piston-based pumping element, offering:

  • Volumetric efficiency better than 97 percent
  • Overall efficiency of 60 to 70 percent (typical efficiency is in the 35-45 percent range)
  • Less than one second to stable output, with no overshoot, and full speed step input
  • System flow and pressure hysteresis: less than plus or minus two percent
  • System dynamic response: less than 20o lag with sinusoidal input of five percent of full speed at frequency between 0-6 Hz

Next generation: smart pumps for hybrid-electric propulsion

Smart pumps support more-electric aircraft with higher efficiency and lower cost - Concept Illustration for a blended-wing body aircraft- Gas Turbine Fuel Systems DivisionAlternative propulsion systems are being looked at as a means of achieving fuel savings, lowered emissions, and reduced noise. One such alternative approach uses hybrid gas turbines. A highly efficient gas turbine engine and electric motor are paired to provide thrust via combinations of both sources. 

The electric power can be used for the duration of a flight or when added power is required. Since Parker Aerospace’s electric motor-driven smart pumps are able to vary their routines almost infinitely based on the requirements of the systems they serve, they are readily adaptable for such next-generation applications.


For additional information on Parker Aerospace systems and capabilities, please visit our website.  



Smart pumps support more-electric aircraft with higher efficiency and lower cost - Rick Mossey - Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division

This post was contributed by Rick Mossey, engine systems business development manager, Parker Aerospace, Gas Turbine Fuel Systems Division.







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