Power Electronics

Data Points

French Firms Developing All-Electric Aircraft

Several French firms are making advancements in the development of an all-electric aircraft. One such aircraft, the Airbus A380, has 16 electro-hydraulic flight controls. All-electric operation has great impact on the on-board supply systems, including reductions in cost and weight, easier maintenance, and more flexible management of loads as electrical power is transmitted individually to each system. This is important because controls are no longer dependent on a single central hydraulic system.

“It is expected, due to volume and weight considerations, that all the hydraulic systems will be eliminated and replaced with electrical systems,” explains Philippe Ladoux, head of the Power Electronics and Static Converters Group at LEEI, France's Industrial Electronics and Electrotechnics Laboratory, which is based in Toulouse at the heart of the European aeronautical and space industry pole.

Making a difference in future on-board aircraft systems is TotalFinaElf (TFE), a small/medium-sized enterprise based near Toulouse. TFE has developed a technology which relates to control of permanent magnet electric motors without rotor position sensors. It has also built a reputation in the field of active filtering of current.

TFE also formed an economic interest group, ENAIR'GIE, with ELTA, a French specialist in severe environment electronics. For two years, ELTA's test Airbus A320 aircraft has been evaluating an electric flight control system — the only such equipment with more than 500 hr of flying time on a civil aircraft. To learn more, visit www.infotechfrance.com/ftpousa.

Consolidation Trend Continues in Power Management IC Market

The power supply and power management integrated circuit (IC) market has undergone much change over the last three years with regard to the supplier landscape. In 1999 and 2000, 15 spin-offs, acquisitions, or mergers took place specifically relating to power supply and power management ICs. Only four such transactions occurred in 2001. With Intersil's acquisition of Elantec in 2002, only 90 power supply and power management IC suppliers remain worldwide.

According to recent analysis by Venture Development Corp. (VDC), the trend toward consolidation is also exhibited in changing market shares among the top players. In 1998, the top five power supply and power management suppliers accounted for 35% of the marketplace. After the flurry of acquisitions/mergers in 1999-2000, this figure rose to more than 40%, demonstrating industry consolidation. However, this figure decreased to 37% in 2001, as many of the larger players struggled in a down economy. Although a definitive industry trend toward consolidation exists, 2001 represented a minor setback. The following firms are ranked by global revenues for power supply and power management ICs:

  1. Texas Instruments
  2. Linear Technology
  3. National Semiconductor
  4. ON Semiconductor
  5. Fairchild Semiconductor
  6. ST Microelectronics


In 1998, the top five vendors were National, Motorola (now ON Semi), Linear, Sanken, and Maxim. Acquisitions and mergers have played a major role in the shift in vendor shares, specifically the TI/Unitrode and the Fairchild/Samsung acquisitions.

In addition to those listed, there are more than 60 vendors with less than 1% market share. The top eight vendors account for more than 50% of the global merchant shipments of these ICs, although there are about 90 participants in this market.

For more information on this study, visit www.vdc-corp.com.

ABB Offers CBT Programs

To help individuals and companies take advantage of the library of pre-programmed application macros in the company's ACH DriveIT Low Voltage 400 AC drives, ABB has expanded the complement of Computer Based Training (CBT) services for the HVAC drive line.

The self-paced program, available as licensed software in an interactive CD format, maximizes convenience and helps start-up personnel and end users when they take delivery of drives. The program also saves customers equipment costs, reduces the need for training equipment, enables users to take better advantage of features and benefits built into drives, optimize their drives' performance, and provide a faster diagnosis of system problems.

The training software guides users through the process of installation-to-implementation; explains and demonstrates the macros; and simulates both programming exercises and actual “run tests” of the drive and motor. The software also covers the basic drives as well as the bypass and serial communication options.

For more information, call the ABB Training Center at 262-785-3357.

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