Distributed propulsion in aircraft has been shown to increase reliability and benefit aerodynamic performance. This paper discusses power electronic architectures and proposes control schemes suitable for distributed propulsion in hybrid and electric airplanes. Hybrid electric airplanes include permanent magnet synchronous generators driven by jet engines. The output of the generators is connected to the propulsion motors through back to back voltage source converters. Batteries, connected to the DC bus through buck-boost converters, are used to provide additional power to the propulsion motors during take off and climb. In the case of electric airplanes, the jet engine-permanent magnet generator system is replaced by solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. The output of the solar PV system is controlled such that it operates at its maximum power point, and power is provided to batteries and propulsion motors. Simulation results on both hybrid and solar electric systems are presented.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in 2018 AIAA/IEEE Electric Aircraft Technologies Symposium (EATS).

© 2018 IEEE Copyright Notice. “Personal use of this material is permitted. Permission from IEEE must be obtained for all other uses, in any current or future media, including reprinting/republishing this material for advertising or promotional purposes, creating new collective works, for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or reuse of any copyrighted component of this work in other works.”

The document available for download is the authors’ manuscript version that is accepted for publication. The final published version is copyrighted by IEEE and is available as: D. Lawhorn, V. Rallabandi, D. M. Ionel, “Power Electronics Powertrain Architectures for Hybrid and Solar Electric Airplanes with Distributed Propulsion,” Electric Aircraft Technology Symposium (EATS), Cincinnati, OH, 6p., June 2018

Funding Information

The support of this research by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, through the NASA Grant no. KYGF-18-020, University of Kentucky, the L. Stanley Pigman endowment, and ANSYS, Inc. is gratefully acknowledged.