The Clean Sky Joint Undertaking between the European Commission and the European aviation industry is the largest aeronautics research programme in Europe. It is a collaborative initiative aimed at researching and developing ground-breaking technologies across nine key focus areas to improve the environmental performance of aviation.
Formed in 2008, the Clean Sky Joint Undertaking has been developing a range of new technologies which aim to reduce the CO2 and noise emissions associated with air transport. During this time Clean Sky has come up with a number of innovative and imaginative ideas to tackle the climate challenge and improve competitiveness and mobility in Europe.
The flagship project of Clean Sky is a new type of propulsion concept called the Counter-Rotative Open Rotor. As the name suggests, the engine consists of two rotor fans that rotate in opposite directions on a turbo engine. The concept is expected to enable reductions of over 35% in fuel burn and CO2 emissions per passenger-kilometre when compared to the standard reference aircraft. The wind tunnel tests carried out in 2012 showed very encouraging results and plans are already being made for a ground demonstration at the beginning of 2016.
Another example of more general Clean Sky research is their work on efficient navigation systems. The flight management systems have been designed so as to allow for optimised flight paths. These systems, which are used on all modern commercial aircraft to automatically execute the flight plan have been enhanced so as to take all considerations into account and propose the best trade-off to the crew. The system makes automatic calculations relating to speed, altitude and thrust, and then measures the impact these would have on fuel consumption and noise, allowing the crew to decide what aspects are a priority at any given time.
In addition, Clean Sky has a long list of innovative research projects across Europe. The Clean Sky project shows what can be achieved when industry and governments work together with a shared vision and commitment to cleaner aviation technology.