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Design Evaluation and Performance Assessment of Rotorcraft Technology by 2050

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DEPART2050 (Design Evaluation and Performance Assessment of Rotorcraft Technology by 2050)

Reporting period: 2019-04-02 to 2020-10-01

The effectiveness of the rotorcraft, its importance, and future development is significantly aligned to the Flightpath 2050 environmental and mobility objectives. Corresponding to the growth in the aviation sector, estimated average future yearly rotorcraft market growth illustrates a clear and increasing trend in various sectors which include commercial passenger transport, Emergency Medical Services, maritime SAR (Search and Rescue) and in the Oil and Gas sector.
Consequently within CS2 (Clean Sky 2), the focus of and investment in the Fast Rotorcraft IADP (Innovative Aircraft Demonstrator Platforms) clearly demonstrates the importance of rotorcraft and their application in the future. The objectives of CS2 have therefore been to field ground breaking rotorcraft concepts with 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) contributes to CS2 objectives by undertaking performance (fuel consumption), environmental (pollutant emissions and noise) and socio-economic impact (mobility, connectivity and productivity, and investment cost analysis) assessments for future fast rotorcraft configurations, which essentially include tilt-rotor aircraft and compound rotorcraft configurations. The assessments are undertaken at airport and Air Traffic System (ATS) levels, aiming to quantify improvements that may be accrued through replacement of reference technology over designated time scales (2035/2050). Within the scope of the project and as part of the TE, the project is positioned to assess CS2 Fast Rotor Craft (FRC) technologies and hence includes 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 similar generic concepts.
The overall objectives include:
1) Generation of a set of realistic trajectories to simulate representative FRC flight scenarios.
2) Assessment of the environmental impact (CO2, NOx and noise) of FRC in comparison with reference rotorcraft.
3) Evaluation of mobility improvements for realistic scenarios in comparison with conventional air and ground means of transportation.
4) Investigation of the effects of future environmental policy and taxation on the financial viability of FRC through investment cost analysis
During the period under review the consortium has:
– Undertaken comprehensive performance, environmental and noise assessments on the NGCTR concept from LH and the RACER concept from AH concepts at the airport and ATS level against a pre-defined reference vehicle using models provided by the OEM.
– Analysed the performance of 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 Oil and Gas (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 configurations (for TR and CR) which are different in operational and design characteristics to the OEMs’ configurations (NGCTR and RACER concepts).
– Utilised the models to explore and expand design space to identify configurations that may be further suited to achieving CS2 targets.
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 tilt-rotor aircraft and compound rotorcraft 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 will be in undertaking and presenting such analysis and assessments. This will be achieved through further development and integration of existing modeling capability to achieve reliable and robust impact assessments.
In terms of the approach and methods used, the progress beyond the state-of-the-art will be in the innovation, customization, and utilization of multi-disciplinary simulation tools to achieve the required objectives. Based on this, the ambition of DEPART2050 is to therefore 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 2050 goals, the project will quantify the benefit in the reduction of emissions and noise and improvements that may be accrued through improved mobility over the specified timeframe. Through the development of validated technology assessment models, DEPART2050 will also explore and aim to identify avenues for further technology development.

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 of the project:
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 rotorcraft in achieving the requisite environmental targets (emissions and noise).
Socio-economic impact: In terms of socio-economic impact, the study has contributed towards establishing the role of the novel rotorcraft technology 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.
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