Aviation is a significant contributor to high emissions of pollutants and noise in the vicinity of local airports. To address this issue, a new roadmap for the development of disruptive technologies and concepts of operations is needed. This will require a combination of interventions on both the aircraft and the airport itself. The EUfunded INDIGO project will unite academia, research centres and airports to identify to improve local air quality and noise reduction resulting from a new nonconventional mid-range aircraft. It has distributed propulsion based on hybrid electric/sustainable and conventional fuel powertrain and large aspect-ratio wings that allow for quiet flight with zero-to-low emissions at low altitudes near airports. Conventional fuel is only used when necessary.
Achieving the goals of climate neutrality by reducing the impact of aviation is a task that requires a carefully drafted roadmap for the development of disruptive technologies and concepts of operations. With particular attention to the emissions of pollutants and noise in airport local airport areas, a synergetic approach is needed that combines together interventions on the aircraft side and on the airport side. This calls for coordinated efforts in developing technologies that not only provide benefits during cruise conditions but also are capable of improving the local air quality and noise in airport areas where the impact of pollutants and annoyance to local communities has been demonstrated to be quite large in terms of morbidity and mortality.
INDIGO is a collaborative project between academia, research centres and airports that aims at identifying the margins of improvement in airport local air quality and noise resulting from the introduction of a new non-conventional mid-range aircraft featuring distributed propulsion based on hybrid electric/sustainable and conventional fuel powertrain and large aspect-ratio wings capable to fly quietly and in zero-to-low-emission mode (i.e. electric and SAF) at low altitudes near airports and resort to conventional aviation fuel only when required, e.g. at higher altitudes or to recharge batteries during cruise. INDIGO will explore a new paradigm for the next-generation of silent and clean mid-range aircraft and for the way such a new aircraft will allow transforming the operations “at and near” airports. It will introduce improved methods for the analysis of future aviation environmental impact that, under the filter of uncertainty, will be able to account for non-conventional aircraft performance and future airport scenarios.