In-Flight Aviation Testbed Platform for ARPA-E Programs in Power Electronics, Motors, and Power Generation

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Hawthorne, California
Project Term:
02/24/2020 - 02/23/2023

Technology Description:

Ampaire Inc. will provide a dedicated testbed aircraft that ARPA-E projects can use to deploy and test their technologies at high altitude (up to 6km) in actual flight environments. Ampaire’s dedicated, custom-built, 337 Electric EEL is a converted Cessna 337, the largest aircraft ever to fly using plug-in hybrid electric propulsion. The excess space and flight test payload capacity enable the addition of test circuits without compromising the plane’s performance. Teams can test new power distribution systems, high-power electronics, inverters, motors, propellers, ducted fans, batteries, fuel cells, and high-efficiency combustion engines either directly or as a generator. Measurements taken during flight will include temperature performance, electro-magnetic interference abatement/compliance, and safe equipment operation at altitude. Ampaire will enable installation and ground tests of components before flight to ensure proper fit and functionality. The aircraft will provide ARPA-E teams the flight operation hours needed to validate their technology, overcoming a significant barrier to entry for technologies in aviation applications.

Potential Impact:

If successful, CIRCUITS projects will enable further development of a new class of power converters for aviation applications.


More robust power electronics that withstand higher operating temperatures have increased durability, a smaller form factor, and higher efficiency that will significantly improve the reliability for aviation applications.


Low cost and highly efficient power electronics could lead to higher performance and more affordable electric and hybrid-electric aviation reducing transportation related emissions.


High performance, low cost power electronics would enable more affordable electric and hybrid-electric aviation with reduced fuel costs, longer maintenance intervals, and increased reliability, ultimately reducing transportation costs for businesses and their customers.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Isik Kizilyalli
Project Contact:
Dr Edward Lovelace
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

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