Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


A3R Report Summary

Project ID: 711226

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - A3R (Air To Air Automatic Refuelling)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2016-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

We are MESUREX Aeronautics, an ISO9001:2008 and EN9100:2009 certified company, founded in 2006 in Malaga (Spain). We design, develop and manufacture high quality mechanical enclosures, electronic devices and embedded systems for the Aerospace market and special industrial uses. DEFENSYA is an innovative technological company founded in July 2001, with headquarters in Madrid, (Spain), and commercial offices in the US and Colombia. They specialise in designing, developing and manufacturing electronics and communications systems, and particularly embedded vision systems for the Aerospace market.

Current in-flight refuelling systems are unsafe and expensive. They require expert boomers and the process has an error probability that makes it riskier than taking off or landing. This is the main reason for its non-viability for civil avionics.
Our proposal A3R - Automatic Air-2-Air Refuelling System will improve the safety of in-flight refuelling process thanks to a set of patent-pending disruptive innovations:
1. Intelligent vision system providing precise distance measurement between tanker, boom-tip and receiver’s fuel receptacle driven (ES-201630468 and ES-201531460).
2. Augmented reality haptic user interface that provides boomers a more natural and intuitive mean to operate the boom (ES-201531426).
3. Semi and full automatic flying-boom in-flight refuelling system and method (ES-201630480 and ES-201431734).

A3R makes possible bringing IFR to civilian avionics and making military refuelling safer because:
1. A3R improves safety:
a. Strong reduction of human errors in IFR operations.
b. Eliminates need for stages reducing the number of take-offs in a travel.
2. A3R reduces costs:
a. Does not require expert boom operators (and associated expensive training).
b. Reduces fuel consumption:
i. Avoiding stages (just 1 take-off per travel).
ii. Avoiding aircrafts fuel deposit to be full, which reduces consumption during the take-off.
c. Reduces complexity (and cost) of associated earth infrastructure, e.g. just 1 security control, 1 boarding process, simplified luggage management (also reducing overall energy consumption per travel at airports).

During this 5-month feasibility study (2016/02/01 – 2016/06/30) we have validated our technology and consolidated our business strategy. A3R brings a safer IFR solution to the avionics market by semi/fully automating IFR operations avoiding the human error and boomers workload.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During this 5-month feasibility study (2016/02/01 – 2016/06/30) we have validated our technology and consolidated our business strategy. A3R brings a safer IFR solution to the avionics market by semi/fully automating IFR operations avoiding the human error and boomers workload.

Technical feasibility
- Both partners have reserved floorspace at their facilities to develop and manufacture all components and parts of A3R as well as to integrate all systems, and most importantly to make all necessary near-real field tests prior to final flying tests.
- We have built an improved testing system, prior a robotic arm manoeuvring the plane to be refuelled and substituted by a 4-degree wire-robotics system that let us perfectly emulate real situations.
- We have validated the physical and mechanical design of all components of A3R and detailed the work plan to build an avionics-degree version of all components of A3R

Business feasibility
- We have completed a thorough freedom to operate study concluding that no obstacles exist to commercialise our technology. Indeed, following the promising results of this study, we have filed 5 patent applications since we presented our Phase-1 proposal.
- We have secured the support of AIRBUS to help us build a winning specification for both military and civilian IFR systems and, more importantly, their support to help us field-test our system.
- We have secured the support of all critical suppliers of critical systems/devices, who are fully aligned with us in order to complete all actions, and optimize the management of the supply chain.
- We have started to train our sales and commercial personnel in our goals for this system and devised both a preliminary business strategy and the foundations of the commercialisation plan that will be completed during Phase 2 execution.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

A3R will allow MESUREX Aeronautics to lead the in-flight refuelling systems segment with our semi-automatic system in the short-mid-term and with our fully-automatic system in the mid-long term. We will be the exclusive manufacturer of A3R systems, which will let us achieve ~€ 89 million accumulated sales with expected RoI5-years, worst-case > 13, following a pessimistic scenario based upon specific demand manifested to us by main manufacturers: Boeing and Airbus (see letters of interest from executives in charge).

DEFENSYA will receive a compensation for the use of their (patent-pending) innovations and knowledge used in the system (HAPTIX, the IFR system concept, the specific HW designed to build it and the software algorithmic that empowers the platform). Following our current signed agreement, they will receive 15% royalties over total sales, which will let them generate ~€ 13.34 million accumulated revenues within first 4-years of business (RoI5-years, worst-case >13, following the pessimistic scenario described above. More importantly, this project will boost DEFENSYA growth and position them as a world leading provider of augmented-reality intelligent vision system IP cores for different verticals of interest (i.e. surveillance, drones/robotics, borders-control).

We will start providing systems to satisfy military demand (IFR is not approved yet for civilian use), where following a worst-case scenario we forecast 25% market quote in Airbus Defence & Space aircrafts by 2023). Reaching first the military market is a fundamental and most necessary step to reach the civilian avionics market:
1. This is the only market where IFR systems are approved as of today, the only context we can make real-scenario testing and for sure will let us reach the market with a mature product and be ready for the moment IFR is approved for commercial avionics.
2. More importantly, defence divisions of main avionics manufacturers will act as a recommendation channel to reach responsibles of the civilian market in main manufacturers with a working product.

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