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Design Evaluation and Performance Assessment of Rotorcraft Technology by 2050

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - DEPART2050 (Design Evaluation and Performance Assessment of Rotorcraft Technology by 2050)

Reporting period: 2020-10-02 to 2021-10-01

Within CS2 (Clean Sky 2), the focus of and investment in the Fast Rotorcraft IADP clearly demonstrates the importance of the rotorcraft and its application in the future. The objectives of CS2 have therefore been to field innovative rotorcraft concepts with the capability to reduce CO2, NOX, and noise emissions by 20-30% compared to “state-of-the-art” rotorcraft architectures (Entry Into Service (EIS) 2014).
DEPART2050 (Design Evaluation and Performance Assessment of Rotorcraft Technology by 2050) has contributed to CS2 objectives by undertaking performance, environmental and socio-economic impact assessments for future fast rotorcraft configurations. The assessments are undertaken at the airport and Air Traffic System (ATS) levels, aiming to quantify improvements that may be accrued through the replacement of reference technology over designated time scales. Within the scope of the project and as part of the TE, the project assessed Fast Rotorcraft Concept (FRC) technologies which include Airbus Helicopter’s (AH) compound rotorcraft, the Rapid and Cost-Effective Rotorcraft (RACER), Leonardo Helicopter’s (LH) tilt-rotor aircraft, the Next Generation Civil Tilt-Rotorcraft (NGCTR) and two additional generic concepts, conceptualized and modeled within the project.
The overall objectives included:
1) Generation of realistic trajectories to simulate representative FRC flight scenarios.
2) Assessment of the environmental impact (CO2, NOx, and noise) in comparison with reference rotorcraft.
3) Evaluation of mobility improvements for realistic scenarios in comparison with conventional air and ground transportation.
4) Investigation of effects of future environmental policy and taxation on the financial viability of FRC through investment cost analysis
As a conclusion of the action, all the objectives set were effectively met. The research on the advanced concepts clearly indicated potential of FRC concepts to achieve environmental objectives while significantly improving mobility within a geographical area.
During the period under review the consortium has:
‒ Undertaken comprehensive performance, environmental, and noise assessments of the concept FRC at airport and ATS level, against a reference vehicle.
‒ Analysed the performance of the Tilt-rotor aircraft (TR) and Compound Rotorcraft (CR) for Search and Rescue (SAR), Commercial Intercity Transportation (CIT), and Airport Hub Feeder (AHF) missions.
‒ Analysed the performance of TR performing offshore (OAG) and Cargo Transport (CGT) missions.
‒ Analysed the performance of CR performing Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and Door-to-Door Transportation (DTD) missions.
‒ Quantified fuel burn, emission, and noise deltas through detailed mission analysis.
‒ Undertaken mobility assessments to quantify and identify the suitable routes for the technology concepts.
‒ Quantified mobility improvements for realistic scenarios in comparison with conventional air and ground means of transportation.
‒ Conceptualised, adapted, and further developed physics-based models/frameworks to simulate additional generic FRC configurations, different in operational and design characteristics to the OEMs’ configurations.
‒ Utilised the models to explore and expand design space to identify configurations that may be further suited to achieving CS2 targets.
Overview of results for the generic fast rotorcraft concepts (ATS level assessments)
‒ Within the project and apart from the OEM’s FRC concepts, generic tilt-rotor aircraft (designated as NLR Tiltrotor Aircraft -NTRA) and compound rotorcraft (designated as DEPART compound rotorcraft-DCR) were modeled.
‒ The performance and environmental impact of both concept rotorcraft were compared against the Twin Engine Medium (TEM-R) helicopter, which was adapted from CS1 research.
The key results from the assessments included:
o Over the missions assessed, fuel burn and CO2 increases between 13 and 25%, due to the increased gross weight and flights speed of the FRC.
o When assessed using normalized metrics (Kilogram fuel burn(or CO2) / passenger * kilometer) benefits of up to 25% were observed and attributed to higher passenger capacity of the novel concepts.
o Low-NOx combustor technology was assumed and depending on the mission flown, NOx emissions (normalized) were found to vary between a disadvantage of 19% and a benefit of up to 40%.
o Significant benefits in mission time (of up to 50%) were observed.
o An investment cost viability analysis has also established the benefits of using FRC to replace conventional rotorcraft.
As part of exploitation and dissemination activities, research from the project and the associated results were presented at 6 international conferences and published in 2 technical journals. The project also contributed to the 1st CS2 TE Global Assessment Report.
The novel rotorcraft technologies developed within Clean Sky 2 have significant potential in contributing to the overall objectives and targets of Flightpath 2050. However, limited assessments are currently available to clearly define the potential of FRC in reducing environmental impact, or the specific socio-economic benefits at the airport and ATS level. The progress beyond the current state-of-the-art in research has been in undertaking and presenting such analysis and assessments. This has been achieved through further development and integration of existing modelling capability, to achieve reliable and robust impact assessments. In terms of the approach and methods used, notable progress has been made in the innovation, customization, and utilization of multi-disciplinary simulation tools to achieve the required objectives.
The ambition of DEPART2050 was to provide clarity in establishing the benefits of the novel rotorcraft technologies being assessed in comparison to the utilization of a reference aircraft/helicopter for different types of missions. In line with this ambition and EU’s 2050 environmental goals, the project quantified the benefit that may be accrued through introduction of FRC. This has been quantified in terms of improved mobility and reduction in environmental pollution. Through the development of validated technology assessment models, DEPART2050 explored and identified avenues for further technology development by investigating generic fast rotorcraft concepts.
Potential impacts
Given the type of air travel being considered in this work, the assessment being undertaken is largely unprecedented and hence the impact of the research is multi-faceted. Based on achievements to date, the following are considered as the key impacts:
‒ Environmental impact: The most critical impact that the project has had is in clearly quantifying the role future fast rotorcraft will have in enabling the aviation industry to achieve a lower environmental footprint. The analysis undertaken to date using advanced performance simulation models has enabled quantifying the role of FRC in achieving the requisite environmental targets.
‒ Socio-economic impact: In terms of socio-economic impact, the study has contributed towards establishing the role of the FRC in meeting market and societal needs through transportation and economic efficiency improvements. This includes identifying and establishing the improved ability of populations to reach larger parts of geographical regions in reduced travel time and improved SAR and EMS capabilities.