The RECREATE project is about the introduction and airworthiness of cruiser-feeder operations for civil aircraft. Cruiser-feeder operations are investigated as a promising pioneering idea for the air transport of the future.
The top level objective of the proposal is to demonstrate on a preliminary design level that cruiser-feeder operations (as a concept to reduce fuel burn and CO2 emission levels) can be shown to comply with the airworthiness requirements for civil aircraft.
A comprehensive estimate shows a fuel burn reduction potential and a CO2 emission reduction of 31% for a typical 6 000 nautical miles flight with a payload of 250 passengers. This reduction potential is large by any standard.
In the project, airworthy operational concepts for cruiser-feeder operations are determined and studied. The benefits in terms of CO2 emission reduction are derived and quantified. This is conducted in three integrating work packages, which are underpinned by research conducted in three disciplinary work packages.
A conceptual and preliminary design study of aircraft required will be made, as well as automatic flight control concepts necessary to reduce the workload of the pilots and concepts to transfer passengers, supplies and waste. Finally, flight simulations will be conducted to investigate the cruiser-feeder operations concept. Impact of the RECREATE project will be generated by disseminating the results to the general public, to advisory groups and policy makers and to the aeronautical sciences community.
One step closer to air refuelling for airliners
Refuelling civil passenger aeroplanes during long flights can greatly contribute to energy-efficient air transport. An EU initiative helped prove such a refuelling operation can be carried out safely and efficiently.
Transferring aviation fuel from one aircraft to another during flight is a common procedure in the military. This manoeuvre is virtually unheard of for long-haul commercial aeroplanes. Air-to-air refuelling (AAR) of passenger aircraft can result in considerable fuel savings and environmental gains.
The EU-funded http://www.cruiser-feeder.eu/ (RECREATE) (Research on a cruiser enabled air transport environment) project set out to determine how much fuel can be saved by replacing airport fuelling operations with AAR.
Research initially showed that fuel can be reduced up to 23 % for a standard 6 000-nautical-mile flight with a 250-passenger aircraft. The detailed research specified the reduction potential at 9 – 16 %. It was also revealed that the total operating costs can be lowered.
Simulation of aerial refuelling for commercial aeroplanes and feedback from pilots demonstrated the feasibility of safe AAR operations. In addition, the automated flight control system requires little training.
Project members also researched how passengers and cargo might be delivered to a nuclear-powered long-range airliner. Findings revealed that significant advancements in simulation and computing technology are required for its further development.
RECREATE proved the airworthiness of the automated AAR concept by analysing it from an economic, operational and technical perspective. A cost-benefit analysis showed that both fuel and costs can be reduced despite very high investment expenses. Total operating costs can be lowered by 12 %.
Results were disseminated to the aeronautical sciences community and policymakers, including 24 scientific conference papers and over 20 presentations at various relevant events.
Thanks to RECREATE, the delivery of fuel to commercial airliners may become a reality sooner than ever expected.