EU research results


English EN


MAAT Project – Multibody Advanced Airship for Transport – has started

FP7 Project is heading to the Innovation of Transport
12 Project Partners from the European Union, Russia and Uruguay work on an innovative concept of passenger and freight transport: The idea of the EU-funded project (Seventh Framework Programme FP7-EU-Project) is to develop a totally new approach towards the transport of passenger and goods.


The Multibody Advanced Airship for Transport – abbreviated as MAAT – is a green system due to the complete absence of emission such as carbon dioxide and is powered by photovoltaic systems. The MAAT consists of a cruiser which carries several feeders. The feeders may carry passengers as well as freight and can be exchanged in mid-flight with another cruiser. Thus, the MAAT system can be used as a mobile flying logistics centre for passengers and goods.
The vertical take-off and landing allows to stop at town centres, thereby minimizing delivery times. MAAT is the ideal vehicle for connecting urban centres worldwide. MAAT airport hubs result in a reduced consumption of soil due to air transport free of the necessity of long runways. Also, airport hubs can be located close to town centres and would reduce passengers’ travelling times.
At the same time, MAAT can also be employed in areas with very little infrastructure, and is thus ideal for the transport of goods to remote and sparsely populated areas.
Based on a visionary idea, the realization of MAAT would lead to a revolutionary change in passenger and freight transport, using a climate-neutral drive-propulsion system. The project started in September 2011 and is to last 36 months, project leader is the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy.
Background Information:
The concept of MAAT
The MAAT project provides the design of a novel discoid airship or cruiser, which has the possibility of very long non-stop-flight, at economical altitudes and cruise speeds. Feeder ships carry people and goods to and from the cruiser during its travel.
The overall transport system is composed by two elements:
• One PTAH (Photovoltaic Transport Aerial High altitude system) is the central hexagonal airship cruiser which looks like the corolla of a flower.

• Six ATENs (Aerial Transport Elevator Network) or feeder ships which connect to the PTAH and have the aspect of hexagonal petals.

The implications of the MAAT concept are numerous, including:
• reduction of ground movements for passengers;
• reduction of energy expended to reach airports and CO2 emissions;
• improved aesthetics of the transport system;
• improved development and rapid goods movement B2B.

The MAAT project transforms the current concept of the air transport system of limited ground structures (airports) and allows diffused access to this transport modality. When MAAT arrives with people and goods at an interception point, the ATEN containing them is released and descends to land at an AHA airport hub, from which another ATEN with people and goods has previously taken off to be boarded on the PTAH. After reaching the operational altitude of PTAH, the ATEN feeder approaches and engages the PTAH in the place vacated by the descending feeder. The complete MAAT system will proceed to the next interception point, where the unloading/loading procedure is repeated. The cruiser and the feeder can join and link each other rigidly. Static hovering times are reduced to the minimum necessary for safe engagement operations and joining, while the transfer operations of passengers and/or goods from the feeder to the cruiser and vice-versa can be performed while in motion, reducing downtimes and maximizing the system efficiency.
The MAAT system is the first real aerial logistic center, which will lead to the development of a transformative transport network. In flight, one MAAT can meet another MAAT, which is following a different route. When the two PTAHs are in close proximity, they can exchange one or more ATENs, since the ATENs destinations might be different from the ones of their original host PTAH.
All these possibilities of movement are an effective application of the MAAT system’s platooning technology, technology widely applied in the road and rail transports.
Operational altitude of the MAAT has been evaluated between 15-16 km, and on the basis of atmospheric models, could range between 13-17 km. The operative speed of the MAAT cruiser can be estimated about 200 km/h in calm air. This means that the speed could be about 100 km/h with high frontal winds and 300 km/h with high back winds in the considered range of altitudes. The current predictive possibilities (in weeks and days) of high-altitude winds and jet streams allow the identification of locations with more favorable currents.
Energy requirements and environmental impact
The most significant advantage of the MAAT system depends on its energy requirement and is related to its particular energy source:
• the photovoltaic system, during daytime, produced hydrogen and oxygen;
• hydrogen based fuel cells, during night, supplies the needed electric energy.

This system empowers the propulsion system and the on-board equipments that assure the internal comfort of passengers and crew. If properly sized, this energy system allows a practically 24-hour operation for MAAT.

Moreover, the complete absence of emissions will drastically reduce the impact of the MAAT system in terms of greenhouse gases, to which current airplanes contribute prominently.
Objectives of the MAAT Project

The final goal of the project consists in testing the feasibility of the MAAT system.
Therefore, the project has several aims:

• identify and design the best type of propulsion for the PTAH, starting with the available electric energy supplied by the photovoltaic modules;
• study the different possible ways of approaching and joining and release between ATEN and PTAH;
• identify and design the joining modality between the ATEN s and PTAH;
• design the best procedure of docking operations, thus identified to obtain the minimum disruption and maximum safety of passengers and goods;
• size the motor system of the PTAH and the ATENs;
• study the different architectures of PTAH and ATENs, such that PTAH is optimized for aerodynamic performances given specified dimensions and operative mission;
• set up a demonstrator of the system on a 1:10 scale; the demonstrator has to prove the feasibility of all systems, subsystems and operations, yet to be developed;
• test the capability of PTAH to remain airborne for long periods without interruption.

For technical questions please contact: For general questions please contact:
Prof. Antonio Dumas
Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia Sede di Reggio Emilia
Di.S.M.I. - Dipartimento di Scienza e Metodi dell'Ingegneria -
Padiglione Morselli - Via Amendola, 2
42100 Reggio Emilia, Italy
Direct Phone:+39.0522.522220 - Fax:+39.0522.522609

Trancossi Michele Ph.D. Ing.
Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia Sede di Reggio Emilia
Direct Phone:+39.0522.522096 - Fax:+39.0522.522609 Lars Günsel
LogisticNetwork Consultants GmbH
Breite Straße 7
Germany - 30159 Hannover
Phone: ++49 – 511 – 35 77 92-23


Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czechia, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Spain, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, United Kingdom


Contributed by:

LogisticNetwork Consultants GmbH

Breite Stra§e 7

30159   Hannover




Lars GŸnsel (Mr)

See more articles from this contributor