System wide reliability impact of power converters in more-electric aircraft applications

Millar, Kieran and Fong, Kenny and Peña Alzola, Rafael and Norman, Patrick and Burt, Graeme (2023) System wide reliability impact of power converters in more-electric aircraft applications. SAE Technical Papers. 2023-01--991. ISSN 0148-7191 (

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The continued electrification of aircraft is required such that ambitious decarbonisation targets can be met. A significant challenge presented with this trend is the increased reliance on electrical systems to perform flight-critical operations in a manner that has not been seen in previous generations of aircraft. The power electronic converter is a key enabling technology in aircraft electrification. Its prevalence is such that the failure rate of flight critical-loads is closely linked with that of the associated power electronic converters. As such, there is a clear need to better understand the impact of improvements in both the reliability and failure estimation of novel power electronic converters at a systems level in future aerospace applications. Accordingly, this paper presents key highlights from literature on power converter research, summarising advances in reliability-enhancing features and more accurate Physics-of-Failure modelling methods. Simulation studies are then presented, which explore the impact of component-level advancements in power converters on the system-level failure rates and power system architecture configurations of flight-critical loads in more-electric aircraft applications.