Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


RECREATE Report Summary

Project reference: 284741
Funded under: FP7-TRANSPORT

Periodic Report Summary 2 - RECREATE (REsearch on a CRuiser Enabled Air Transport Environment)

Project Context and Objectives:
The research conducted in the Research on a Cruiser Enabled Air Transport Environment (RECREATE) project is about the introduction and airworthiness of cruiser-feeder concepts of operations for civil aircraft. Cruiser-feeder concepts of operations are investigated as a promising pioneering idea enabling energy efficient air transport of the future. The soundness of cruiser-feeder concepts of operations for civil aircraft has been under investigation in the RECREATE project for 36 months.
Project Results:
A concept with fuel transfer from feeder to cruiser, and a concept with payload transfer between feeder aircraft and a nuclear propelled cruiser have been studied extensively. For the latter nuclear cruiser concept, it is concluded that neither airworthiness nor acceptance of the idea by the general public is within sight. The concept is however kept for study as it cannot be excluded that an advancement in technology may enable the development of an airworthy nuclear propulsion technology. For the concept with fuel transfer from feeder to cruiser (civil air-to-air refuelling operations), on the other hand, the results of our collaborative research indicate a fuel burn reduction potential on isolated aircraft level between 11% and 23 % for a typical 6000 nautical miles flight with a payload of 250 passengers. It is remarked that the lower bond of this reduction potential is usually considered as large in the aerospace industry. The most important outcome of the RECREATE research is that a clear route has been mapped out on how cruiser-feeder operations (as a concept to reduce fuel burn) could ever comply with airworthiness requirements for civil aircraft. It is proposed to follow an approach similar to certifying for automatic landing systems as specified for All Weather Operations. In line with the corresponding Acceptable Means of Compliance, the performance of the aerial refueling system may be demonstrated through simulations using a model of the system, validated by flight tests. Corner stones of the project for generating all the new data are the optimized cruiser and feeder conceptual and preliminary designs which have been made and refined in two design iterations. These designs are based on separately formulated airworthy operational concepts.
A crucial outcome of the project is the clear vision on the route towards full automation of the whole refuelling phase. Based on the automation concepts chosen and the detailed models created, demonstrations of the performance of the aerial refueling system have been made. The same models have been used in a coupled cruiser – feeder flight simulation experiment involving commercial aviation pilots, to investigate human factors of cruiser-feeder concepts of operations for civil aircraft. From the initial flight simulation experiment, safe refuelling operations are judged as feasible by the pilots involved.
Finally, a surprizing outcome of the project is the result of the benefits study. Benefits in terms of fuel burn reduction or economic benefits have been studied on an integrated air transport level, accounting for realistic fleet and traffic. Unlike our anticipation at the start of the research, not only fuel burn reduction but also cost reduction seems to be feasible.
Potential Impact:
Starting out with the earlier assessments of the bene¬fits of cruiser-feeder operations which had pointed out the aerial refuelling concept as a promising con¬cept, the RECREATE project has been able to show in a consolidated, congruent way that civil air-to-air re¬fuelling can be implemented in an airworthy and economically and ecologically beneficial way. A number of research methodologies coming from different fields and institutes were employed to cover the basic questions about the feasibility of what could be a complete renewal of the existing air transport system.

Due to the complexity of analysing a whole transport system and based on the choices and assumptions made for a comparison, only a range for the change in fuel reduction can be given. The conservative, aircraft-design driven and bottom-up derivation amounts to 11% fuel reduction, including also the fuel used by the tanker aircraft. The statistical, top-down specification shows an upper range of 23% fuel reduction. Implementing AAR on a large scale will enable more long-range point-to-point services and thus lead traffic away from existing hub airports and towards regional airports. This in turn also leads to local economic consequences.

From a design point of view, the conventional mili¬tary refuelling configuration would be replaced by a forward-swept boom configuration which has been shown to be the most promising option, for safety, economi¬cal and passenger comfort reasons.

Future research required for making civil AAR a reality should include the conception of realistic business cases for air transport organisations, aircraft fuel providers and other stakeholders. Regarding airworthiness, the development of a roadmap for civil certification regulations in consultation with certify¬ing authorities is envisaged. Technical research should focus on the design of automated flight con¬trol systems and on the airworthiness of the forward swept boom configuration, including ground and flight test demonstrations.

List of Websites:


de Cock, Koen (R&D Manager)
Tel.: +31 20 511 3449
Fax: +31 20 511 3210


Record Number: 158129 / Last updated on: 2015-03-18
Information source: SESAM