Building cockpits for safer and more efficient aviation
The 'ALICIA' project is developing systems to improve the safety of landing and taxiing operations, and to increase the efficiency of the air transport network. Air traffic is projected to continue to increase by leaps and bounds into the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, flight delays and cancellations, especially due to adverse weather conditions, remain a huge problem, resulting in lost time for passengers and freight operators, and lost revenues for airlines and airports.
ALICIA is developing new cockpit-based technologies and applications that will allow pilots to 'see through' bad weather and to safely fly more closely together, thus driving down delays.
At a recent networking event in Brussels, ALICIA researchers met with other EU-funded projects working on related systems, including SCARLETT, DAPHNE and ODICIS with the objective to get together and try to identify overlaps and potential synergies, share ideas and save time and resources.
Applications for safer taxiing in operation in real aircraft are anticipated within five years. This will mean displays that will give pilots a visual representation of the situation on the ground. The system could use the airport's radar system in combination with satellite navigation technologies.
World records for EU-funded fuel cell-powered aircraft
A hydrogen fuel cell-powered aircraft developed by the 'ENFICA-FC' project has completed a number of successful test flights out of Reggio Emilia airport in Italy, establishing new speed and endurance records for electrically powered class C aeroplanes.
European Union is a strong supporter of research towards greener, safer and more efficient air transport systems, including the 'more electric' and 'all electric' aircraft. The primary advantages of electric technologies in aviation include low emissions and low noise, particularly important for commuter airplanes that usually take off and land in urban areas. Other advantages include lower chance of mechanical failure, such as that caused by volcanic ash, and lower risk of explosion or fire in the event of a collision. Until now, the main disadvantages of electric aircraft have been decreased range and weight penalties.
The goal of the ENFICA-FC project is to demonstrate manned flight in an electric aircraft using fuel cells as a main power supply. Within recent years design, development and installation a fuel cell-based power system in a Czech-built ultra-light aircraft has been accomplished.
The aircraft, called Rapid 200-FC, completed its maiden flight in May 2010, using a completely electrical hybrid power system, comprising a 20kW PEM fuel cell and a 20 kW Li-Po battery. Further flight tests were carried out during which RAPID 200-FC established a new world speed record of 135 km/h for electrically powered class C aeroplanes. The aircraft showed positive handling qualities and satisfactory engine performance and broke an endurance record of 45 minutes.
The RAPID 200 FC is one of the first aeroplanes in Europe and in the world to be fuelled by hydrogen. Project partners consider its successful first flights as a major step forward in the introduction of clean energy in aeronautics.
European Commission officials say the ability of low-noise electrically powered commuter airplanes to take off and land on airfields with strict noise abatement regulations in urban areas and near population centres will allow the use of these airfields late at night, when noise abatement regulations are more stringent. This, in turn, will contribute to the more efficient and sustainable use of the aviation system capacity.
Supersonic Green Machine
This future aircraft design concept for supersonic flight over land comes from a team led by the Lockheed Martin Corporation.
The team's simulation shows a feasible way for achieving overland flight by dramatically lowering the level of sonic booms through the use of an "inverted-V" engine-under wing configuration. Other revolutionary technologies help achieve range, payload and environmental goals.
This concept is one of two designs presented in April 2010 to the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate for its NASA Research Announcement-funded studies into advanced supersonic cruise aircraft that could enter service in the 2030-2035 timeframe.
Image credit: NASA/Lockheed Martin Corporation
Robots that Land and Cling on Vertical Surfaces
A flock of small, unmanned air vehicles flies quietly into a city, maneuvering among the buildings. They communicate as they search for places to land, not on streets or flat rooftops but on the sides of buildings and under the eaves, where they can cling, bat or insect-like, in safety and obscurity. Upon identifying landing sites, each flier turns toward a wall, executes an intentional stall and, as it begins to fall, attaches itself using feet equipped with miniature spines that engage small asperities on the surface. Using its propeller in combination with its limbs, the flier can creep along the wall and reorient for a better view. With opposed pairs of spines, the flier clings tenaciously to resist gusts of wind and ride out inclement weather. The fliers stay attached for hours or days, consuming little power and emitting no sound as they monitor the area. When finished, they launch themselves with a jump and become airborne again, ready for their next mission.
Further reading here
The prototype of the Solar Impulse (HB-SIA), a solar powered emissions-free aircraft that was designed to demonstrate the potential of renewable energies by circumnavigating the globe without landing, has made its maiden flight from in Switzerland. During the 87-min. flight, the aircraft reached a height of 1,200 meters and performed a number of manoeuvres. The aircraft has a wing span of 63 m (i.e. similar to a commercial airliner), but at a weight of only 1,600 kg (i.e. weight of a large family car).
Bertrand Piccard, a Swiss adventurer who in 1999 flew around the world non-stop in a balloon and also the man behind Solar Impulse, plans to test the solar-powered plane by making a crossing of the Atlantic in 2012.
MENTORE - On track with tracking
MENTORE (iMplemENtation of GNSS tracking & tracing Technologies fOR Eu regulated domains)
One important GNSS application is the tracing and tracking (T&T) of sensitive assets, such as nuclear material. The EU-funded MENTORE project demonstrated the current and future applicability of EGNOS and Galileo technology for T&T activities.
The project carried out demonstrations, focusing on a number of areas including the transportation of nuclear materials and livestock, multi-modal freight transport, as well as urban logistics.
The demonstrations were such a success that the Italian oil and gas giant, ENI, decided to install EGNOS on 2.000 trucks in its fleet.
GIANT: GNSS Introduction in the AviatioN secTor - A GIANT step for air safety
The EU-funded GIANT demonstration project sought to pave the way to the introduction of EGNOS and Galileo services in the aviation sector. The project demonstrated to airline operators both the short-term and long-term benefits of switching to the new European satellite navigation systems.
Test flights in Italy, Spain and Switzerland using aircraft and helicopters were, for the first time, guided by the EGNOS signal. The trials went very smoothly and showcased the promising use of Galileo for future safety-critical applications.
KLM Takes Strides in Sustainable Air Transport
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines today operated its first ever passenger flight powered by sustainable biokerosene. The Netherlands should make good use of this leading position to ensure clean, silent and sustainable air transport worldwide," said KLM President & CEO Peter Hartman. "This is technically feasible. We have demonstrated that it is possible. Government, industry and society at large must now join forces to ensure that we quickly gain access to a continuous supply of biofuel."
The development of biokerosene is a quest that KLM is pursuing in accordance with strict financial, technological and ecological criteria. "The food chain may not be jeopardised, and production of biokerosene should not go hand in hand with deforestation or excessive water consumption," said Mr Hartman, adding: "The conservation of biodiversity is, of course, also a precondition. Our cooperation with WWF is both important and inspirational."
KLM founded SkyEnergy together with North Sea Petroleum and Spring Associates. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) will advise the consortium in relation to ecological aspects.
KLM has been involved in biokerosene research since 2007. With the establishment of SkyEnergy, KLM intends to accelerate development and hopes to achieve a market breakthrough. Within the consortium, expertise and experience in legislation, ecology and technology is clustered, as well as the ability to develop biokerosene in an economically viable manner. We are moving forward with great resolve, but cannot do it alone. We need the efforts and support of government, industry and broader society.
Additional information can be found here.
The Switchblade™ three-wheeled Flying Motorcycle is being developed by Samson Motorworks. The flying motorcycle will meet the growing demand for flying cars and roadable aircraft. Switchblade will be airborn in 2010. The two-seater has a weight of 680 kg, a 7m wingspan and uses a conventional 110 kW engine which is good for speed above 200 km/h and a range of 1400 km.
BlueBird Aero Systems has developed the world's first long endurance, hydrogen fuel cell powered, Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) named "Boomerang". The craft is powered by the 1G fuel cell from Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies. Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies (Singapore) have been known to deliver the world's highest energy density performance for PEM fuel cell technology.
Horizon's new fuel cell system also makes it possible to: increasing flight endurance, increase the capability of smaller and lower cost aircraft by integrating more electronic devices (e.g. electro-optical sensors, infrared cameras).
The new fuel cell system generates over 500W/kg and future products will use 3kg (6.6lb) fuel cells. Today's small UAVs use lithium-polymer batteries that generate only 200W/kg. For technical details see website or read.
AESIR Ltd. has developed an inherently stable (see video) Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) UAV platform.
The platform is designed for use in urban and rural environments and is suitable for tasks like surveillance and cargo lift.
The platform is based on the Coanda effect to generate lift and has no external rotating parts and can hence be manoeuvred close to the ground, near buildings and other fixed objects.
The AESIR family comprises at present 3 designs:
- Vidar (man portable; edurance 15 min.; 30 cm diam.; electrical engine; payload 0,1 kg),
- Odin (1m diam.; combustion engine; payload 10kg), and
- Hoder (still in development; multiple engines; payload 1 tonne).
Source : AESIR Ltd
An Antares DLR-H2 motor glider modified/developed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Lange Aviation, BASF Fuel Cells and Serenergy (Denmark) took to the sky in Germany on July 7th while being powered by fuel cells and having zero carbon dioxide emissions while the only by-product of the propulsion is water.
The team has improved the performance capabilities and efficiency of the fuel cell to allow the piloted aircraft to take off by itself. The team hence demonstrate the potential of the technology for this particular application and for possible other future applications in the aerospace sector.
Although the fuel cell may still be a long way from being the primary energy source for the propulsion of large commercial aircraft, it already does is an interesting and important alternative to existing energy systems as a form of reliable on-board power supply.
Fuel cells are more and more applied to other modes of transport like cars and ships. The electricity necessary for propulsion is generated by the “cold” burning of hydrogen and oxygen (taken from the atmosphere). The hydrogen is not naturally available, it has to be extracted from water or petroleum gas. The extraction from water can be realised virtually carbon dioxide free – with the help of wind and solar energy - then being truly renewable.