ATR demonstrator starts flight testing of green regional aircraft technologies as part of Clean Sky initiative
The ATR Flying Demonstrator with composite section on the upper fuselage
Fri 24 Jul 2015 – The first flight has taken place of the ‘green’ ATR 72 Flying Demonstrator as part of a European Clean Sky programme to test new and more effective composite insulating materials and acoustic damping on regional aircraft. The demonstrator has been conceived by ATR and its joint shareholder Alenia Aermacchi, and an entire aluminium section of the upper fuselage on the test aircraft has been replaced with an innovative composite panel. Embedded in the panel is a layer to provide additional acoustic damping as well as two different technologies for structural health monitoring (SHM). The overall objective of the initiative, which is expected to include six flights, is to reduce aircraft weight, fuel consumption, noise and CO2 and NOx emissions in regional aircraft.
The purpose of the first flight was to target weight benefits, internal noise, assembly costs and SHM capability, and a second flying demonstrator later in the year will check improvements to electrical distribution, energy dispersal and air conditioning systems. Also tested during the programme will be innovative navigation avionics designed to optimise route management in order to reduce flight times and fuel burn.
“The ATR already enjoys a worldwide reputation for low emissions due to its low fuel consumption and structural efficiency, with a large use of composite materials on primary structures,” said ATR’s SVP Engineering, Carmine Orsi. “As aircraft manufacturers, we have a real responsibility to develop increasingly green technologies, in particular given that in the coming years, more and more aircraft will be taking to the skies.”
Clean Sky is a Joint Undertaking of the European Commission and the European aeronautics industry and is the largest European research programme for aeronautics, with a €4 billion ($4.4bn) budget over a seven-year timeframe. It is targeting ACARE environmental goals of a reduction in CO2 emissions of 50%, an 80% cut in NOx emissions and a halving of noise levels by 2020 compared to 2000 levels.
“This successful flight shows real progress accomplished in introducing large pieces of innovative materials in regional aircraft,” commented Eric Dautriat, Clean Sky Executive Director. “The outcome opens the door to further improvement in environmentally friendly planes that people expect. I am pleased to see evidence that the Clean Sky Demonstrators are already in the sky.”