One year ago, no one could have predicted that a tiny virus would come along and upend our lives the way that COVID-19 has. The aviation sector, in particular, is reeling from the impact of the pandemic. Eurocontrol reported that almost 90% of aircraft were grounded from March to May of 2020, and now, in January 2021, air traffic is only at 61% compared to last year's levels.
However, challenging times present us with new opportunities.
Satellite images of pollution-free skies following the March lockdowns revealed the benefits that clean, emission-free air travel could bring in the future, though obviously not at the cost of the mass economic disruption and job losses caused by the pandemic. Over the last year, we have spent more time enjoying nature, and the forests, lakes, beaches and rivers that are near our homes. We have become more aware of the impact that climate change has on our lives. The European Commission, led by Ursula von der Leyen, sees sustainability as the future, as laid out in the EU Green Deal and the Green Recovery.
At Clean Sky, we are adamant that aviation can become climate-neutral. Our mission is to reduce carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and noise emissions, to make zero-emission flight a reality. For the past 12 years, we’ve been pushing the boundaries in aerospace engineering to develop technologies for new aircraft configurations, new engines, and new structures and systems, which will be a solid foundation for making climate-neutral flight a reality.
Transforming aviation into a climate-neutral activity is an immense challenge, so Clean Sky’s approach is to tackle it from a variety of angles. There is no one silver bullet – a combination of cutting-edge technologies will need to be designed to make zero-emission flight a reality.
Recently, we launched our online stand where we showcase some of our most innovative ideas. Here, you can discover a range of our projects – including our engine demonstrator Tech TP, a 100% European-built, sustainable, low-fuel and low-noise engine demonstrator for use on general aviation and smaller commuter sized aircraft (up to 19 passengers). You’ll also see the UltraFan, a technology demonstrator for the next generation of environmentally-friendly gas turbines for large commercial aircraft.
The Dragon concept aims to reduce fuel consumption using distributed electric propulsion, making it possible to fit smaller engines in a variety of positions on the aircraft to significantly optimise efficiency.
RACER combines an innovative rotorcraft wing-box design with lighter structures and improved power management efficiency, while NextGenCTR features a fixed-engine, split gearbox drivetrain rotorcraft concept, with an advanced flight control system, efficient nacelle architecture, advanced wing architecture and optimised tail configuration.
Controlling the flow of air around an aircraft by making that flow laminar can reduce fuel-burn and cut emissions up to 10%. Clean Sky’s Hybrid Laminar Flow Control (HLFC) demonstrator is putting this theory to the test!
As you can see, there’s a wealth of pathways that can be explored to make climate-neutral aviation a reality! If you want to discover more about what we do, I suggest that you visit our online stand or our website.
Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking is funded under the Horizon 2020 programme, and we believe in taking a collaborative approach to sustainable aviation. Our projects involve participants from not only industry, but also academia, SMEs and research centres as well. Overall, more than 942 participants have been involved in Clean Sky projects, of which more than 363 are SMEs, more than 156 are universities, more than 113 are research centres and more than 310 are from the aviation industry. By taking this variety of viewpoints into account, we believe that we will be able to achieve success much faster.
The road to climate-neutrality is not straight and even – but we are up to the challenge. Clean technologies and cutting-edge research will accelerate the EU’s green agenda and drive the aerospace sector towards environmentally-friendly alternative solutions. Clean Sky is proud to be a part of this journey and we look forward to what the future brings!