Monday, December 3, 2012

Europe consortium aiming to build civil tiltrotor

Graham Warwick Washington

Europe is drawing up plans to build ground and flight demonstrators for commercial and regional aircraft, a compound helicopter and tiltrotor under a civil-aviation research program that will run from 2014-20.
The €3.6 billion ($4.7 billion) Clean Sky 2 program, funded 50:50 by government and industry, is being proposed as a follow-on to the €1.6 billion Clean Sky technology initiative now underway. 

But the final scale of the new effort will depend on the outcome of negotiations over funding for the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, which has a projected budget of around €80 billion.

Clean Sky 2 will have two major aims. One is to take technologies developed under Clean Sky to a higher level of system maturity through more-integrated demonstrators, with the aim of meeting the environmental targets set by European industry in its Vision 2020. The other is to begin work on technologies needed to meet the more challenging longer-term objectives outlined by industry in its Flightpath 2050.

“We need to achieve the full Vision 2020 targets and start a new wave of technologies moving toward the Flightpath 2050 goals,” says Eric Dautriat, executive director of Clean Sky. “We need to go beyond the 2020 goals, to an intermediate step of 2030-35, and it needs to be started now.”

Launched in 2008, Clean Sky runs to 2017 and includes six integrated technology demonstrators for commercial and regional aircraft, business jets, rotorcraft and engines. Advances being developed under Clean Sky are projected to reduce aviation CO2 emissions by about 30%, against the Vision 2020 goal of 50% to 40% from technologies and 10% from air traffic management.

“There remains another 10% to reach the full Vision 2020,” says Dautriat. “In Clean Sky 2 we need to increase the maturity of technologies and increase the CO2 savings in parallel.” Where Clean Sky is “clearly focused on the environment,” Clean Sky 2's objectives will be “more than just environmental,” he says. The new research program will fit within the “smart and green transport” pillar of the EC's Horizon 2020, which has as targets the environment, mobility and competitiveness.

Whereas Clean Sky is aimed at increasing technology readiness levels (TRL) across a broad front, Clean Sky 2 will be focused on raising the readiness level of systems incorporating the new technologies. “We want to move to the maturity of the system rather than TRL only,” he says. “So we intend to deliver more highly integrated demonstrators than in Clean Sky.”

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