SEMIKRON and Chorus Motors to Develop Unique Aircraft Drive

January 23, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

The first demonstration system to result from the agreement between SEMIKRON and Chorus Motors plc to develop the Chorus Meshcon motor and drive technology has been used to move a widebody Air Canada aircraft on the ground without using a tug or its own jet engines.

Following an approach from Chorus, the two companies agreed earlier this year for SEMIKRON to apply its design and applications expertise to the Chorus Meshcon drive concept, in exchange for exclusive supplier status for certain markets. SEMIKRON is designing Chorus Meshcon integrated power assemblies for test motor and drive systems and is expecting to design and manufacture these assemblies for the high end specialty markets.

The Chorus Meshcon drive operates with a very high number of phases, up to 20 or more, optimised for the specific application. This offers a system that, because of its small size, high power density, and torque-speed performance, achieves what no other motor-drive solution can. Applications are expected to be in areas as diverse as starter-alternators for cars, conveyors, locomotives, hoists, robotics and marine applications.

Other aerospace applications, such as starter generators for jet turbines, are likely to be developed in the near-term. Another potential application is as a replacement for some hydraulic systems, where it is desirable for the motor to start and stop frequently, often under load.

The evaluation of the Chorus Meshcon system on the widebody jet was carried out by a Chorus subsidiary, WheelTug plc. Two electric motors attached to the nosewheel of the aircraft were used to move the aircraft to and from airport gates and to taxi it on the runway, without using its engines or having to depend on a conventional tug.

This approach removes the tug cost and reduces the fuel used by the aircraft on the ground. It can also reduce turn-around time and the amount of noise and emissions at airports. Semikron is participating in the next demonstration stage, which is to demonstrate a motor system that fits entirely within the nosewheel.