Drive System Design to develop innovative electric motor and power electronics for the aerospace industry

  • Part of a 2-year collaborative project to develop a scalable electric propulsion unit for urban air mobility, co-funded by Innovate UK
  • DSD applies proven electrified Powertrain Optimisation Process (ePOP) tool for aerospace use to accelerate development time and optimise weight and efficiency
  • Consortium utilises proven automotive industry technology to accelerate development of reduced emissions and noise solution


Consortium's Propulsion Module Concept
InCEPTion Concept. © Blue Bear Systems Research Ltd

Leamington Spa, UK, 29th January 2021 – British electrified propulsion specialist, Drive System Design (DSD), has been announced as a key partner in the two-year Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and Innovate UK project known as InCEPTion. The consultancy will develop the electric motor and power electronics for a uniquely packaged and highly integrated propulsion module suitable for a range of aircraft.

The project, known as InCEPTion (Integrated Flight Control, Energy Storage and Propulsion Technologies for Electric Aviation), is led by Blue Bear Systems Research and will be delivered by a consortium of organisations with highly specialised skills and infrastructure for design and test. The project will develop a modular electric propulsion unit for manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircraft for up to 30 passengers.

The project is a joint Government and industry investment to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace design and manufacture. It is delivered through a partnership between the ATI, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK to addresses technology, capability and supply chain challenges.

“Development of a stand-alone electric propulsion unit for the aerospace industry is a fascinating project that poses many novel challenges and our motor and inverter will play a critical role in meeting the efficiency and mass requirements,” explains John Morton, Drive System Design Engineering Director.

“The level of integration in the unit and the modular construction means we will need to work very closely with our partners to ensure the project is successful. To help overcome the engineering challenges posed by the novel nature of this project, and to accelerate development, it will benefit from our established ePOP (electrified Powertrain Optimisation Process) tool, which we have adapted for aerospace suitability,” Morton continues.

“This enables us to apply DSD’s system approach, proven for our automotive customers, to aerospace, simulating tens of thousands of possibilities in order to optimise the way the sub-systems operate together within a strictly defined physical package.”

Following the design stage, Drive System Design will test and develop the motor and inverter at its test centre in the UK. It is one of Europe’s leading independent electrified propulsion test facilities specialising in durability, NVH and environmental testing.

Unmanned systems and Aerospace specialist Blue Bear Systems Research will lead the consortium of innovation partners from industry and academia which includes:

“This project will significantly enhance our existing NVH skills with a deeper understanding of physcho-acoustics. It marks a key milestone in our mission to advance the development of future mobility systems, facilitating cross-sector collaboration and enabling the industry to engineer a sustainable future,” concludes Morton.