ICAS 2021: The future of sustainable aviation looks bright

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At the 32nd Congress of the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences in Shanghai, Clean Sky’s Executive Director Axel Krein, as well as the Head of the Clean Sky Programme, Sebastien Dubois, and our Head of Strategic Development Ron van Manen, spoke about the journey towards climate-neutral aviation.

“Time is of the essence, but fortunately we are not starting from scratch,” said Axel. “We can build on technologies being developed within the Clean Sky and the Clean Sky 2 programmes.”

“And we can rely on our high-performing innovation eco-system of more than 940 entities in 30 countries with more than 5000 scientists and engineers participating in our programme”.

Sebastien outlined the main results and demonstrators of the Clean Sky 2 programme.

“We have more than 34 flagship demonstrators, more than 106 other demonstrators contributing to the flagship demonstrators, and more than 1000 technologies,” said Sebastien.

Seven main areas of intervention are considered essential to deliver Clean Sky’s high level objectives. These are: Next Generation Cockpit Systems, Advances in Wings and Aerodynamics, Optimal Cabin and Passenger Environments, Breakthroughs in Propulsion Efficiency, Novel Aircraft Configurations, Innovative Structures and Production Systems, and finally Aircraft Non-Propulsive and Control Systems. 

Sebastien outlined the progress that has been made so far, and the success stories from the programme. You can read more about our innovative results here or, you can visit our online stand to take a look.

“We are just at the start of our delivery phase,” Sebastien said, explaining that 30% of the demonstrators will be completed by the end of 2021. All demonstrators will be ready by the end of 2023.

Ron van Manen presented the goals of the new European Partnership for Clean Aviation, due to launch by the end of 2021.

He outlined why Clean Aviation will focus on short-medium range and regional aircraft.

“What’s often assumed is that fuel burn tends to lie within the larger range segments. But what we see here is that 1/3 of aviation’s emissions come from flights below 1500 km, and 2/3 from flights below 4000km. That’s quite telling when it comes to where to make a start, especially when we consider that the technology base for these segments of air travel can make a big, disruptive step sooner than long-haul aviation.”

New technological developments that we are starting to see emerge can be rolled out much more easily in short-medium range and regional aircraft.

A mixed approach will be needed going forwards – incorporating electric solutions incorporating battery or fuel cell powered propulsion systems, very advanced future gas turbines, new approaches to the overall aircraft driving energy efficiency, and adoption of hydrogen-based energy  as a key enabler.

“The scale of the challenge is tremendous. We’re talking about a worldwide fleet of over  50,000 aircraft by 2035 that will need to be replaced. But the business case is there. The opportunity is huge. This journey needs to start yesterday,” he said.

Axel finished the presentation with a note of hope. “Clearly we are heading towards a very busy and exciting time for Clean Sky, for Clean Aviation and the entire aviation sector as a whole. There’s no time to spare. Bold, rapid investment is needed in sustainable aviation. Although the challenge ahead is tremendous, I firmly believe we have the competence and the capacity to succeed. The future of sustainable aviation looks bright.”

This press release was sourced from Clean Sky on 06-Sep-2021.