European manufacturers of larger aircraft lead the way in the global market. This part of European aviation industry is highly competitive. In the area of regional and small-size commercial aircraft the situation is completely different. In the past, a number of traditional aircraft manufacturers in this category have gone bankrupt or struggled with economic problems; only a few European aircraft manufacturers succeeded in establishing themselves in the world markets. In general, there is still sufficient potential for European aircraft manufacturers to regain an influential position in the world market of small-size commercial aircraft, which is nowadays dominated, in particular, by the American aircraft industry (predominantly by the USA, Canada and Brazil).
The competitiveness of manufacturers and developers of small-size aircraft comprises complex quantitative as well as qualitative factors as perceived by potential customers – the aircraft operators. First of all it concerns the sale price and low operating costs. Besides these quantitative requirements, further qualitative characteristics are required, for example safety and reliability, sufficient passenger comfort and ecological aspects. CESAR’s main objective was to improve the competitiveness for European manufacturers and developers of small-size aircraft used for commercial purposes.
The project defined clear objectives as follows:
- time to market reduction by two years;
- development cost reduction by 20 %;
- reduction of manufacturing and assembly costs by 16 %;
- propulsion unit efficiency and affordability;
- optimisation of selected aircraft systems.
CESAR contributed to the improved competitiveness of its partners by an enhanced development cycle and new technologies for reduction of aircraft operating costs. A very comprehensive set of design and developmental procedures was necessary for aircraft development. Similarly the reduction of aircraft operational costs was characterised by many different features.
CESAR could not work only with a single topic and a single objective; it had to reflect a real complexity. Hence CESAR had to be a quite involved integrated project to achieve the major competitiveness objective.
The project consisted of five RTD work packages comprehensively covering the complexity of the aircraft design process, namely aerodynamic and structural design, and integration aspects including optimisation of development processes and knowledge management. In parallel, new technologies would be gained through CESAR for selected aircraft systems and propulsion systems. An extra work package was devoted to management and training.
- WP0 – Management & Training
- WP1 – Aerodynamic Design
- WP2 – Structural Design
- WP3 – Propulsion Integration
- WP4 – Optimised Systems
- WP5 – Design Concepts Integration &Validation
The efforts of 39 participants from 14 European countries were pooled to achieve the ambitious objectives of the CESAR project. They were 7 aircraft designers and manufacturers, 13 aircraft systems providers, 11 research establishments and 6 universities. Seven participants belonged to the SME category.
The CESAR project work was successfully accomplished. The project brought technical achievements and extensive new knowledge to the European general aviation (GA) sector. Despite the lack of investments and problematic profitability in the GA sector, small aircrafts falling under the CS/FAR 23 regulation category gradually become part of the air transport system, especially in remote areas where the density of land transport network is low. Small aircrafts are also used more and more as a part of personal air transport system, operating nearby urban areas.
Special effort was given to the public awareness activities to make the CESAR project and GA sector more visible. The communication between CESAR and other EU-funded projects with complementary content was also widely ensured. Training activities in individual tasks were tailored to serve to both CESAR participants and potential external users. The project work and particular achievements are recorded in more than 300 technical reports (deliverables) available for CESAR participants and upon request for potential external users. Eight technical results are protected by patents. Other results, which were not so close to the market, were published in specialised journals and presented at conferences. There were about 50 publications in all. The plan for dissemination of results contains 177 items briefly describing the nature of individual results and the manner in which they were exploited, disseminated or protected.