ATR’s “Green” Demonstrator Takes Flight

 - July 8, 2015, 11:48 AM
ATR's "green" demonstrator carries vibro-acoustic sensors integrated into a large crown panel of forward fuselage section. (Photo: ATR)

ATR’s “green” ATR 72-600 flying technology demonstrator flew for the first time on Wednesday as part of Europe’s Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative (CS JTI) test campaign. A measure adopted by the European Parliament to support the trend of public-private partnership initiatives in the field of research, CS JTI embodies efforts to achieve major steps toward the environmental goals set by the Advisory Council for Aeronautical Research in Europe (ACARE) for 2020. Half financed by the aeronautical industry and the remainder by the European Union, the ACARE project aims to achieve a 50-percent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and noise pollution and an 80-percent cut in NOx emissions compared with the levels measured in 2000.

ATR has participated in the project since its creation in 2008, playing the role of associate to its Italian shareholder, Alenia Aermacchi, the Coordinator of Green Regional Aircraft Integrated Technology Demonstrator, inside the CS JTI. Wednesday’s flight marked the start of testing of more effective composite insulating materials and vibro-acoustic sensors integrated into a large crown panel of forward fuselage section. Toward the end of the year, plans call for a second flight-test campaign to validate improvements to the electrical distribution, energy dispersal and the air conditioning systems.

“The ATRs already enjoy a worldwide reputation for the low gas emissions due to its low fuel consumption and structural efficiency with large use of composite material on primary structures,” said ATR senior vice president of engineering Carmine Orsi. “Today, we are going further by using one of our aircraft to test the fruit of several years of joint work with the researchers, which should enable us to be even greener in the future...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.”

In the U.S., Boeing and NASA have already flown several environmental technology demonstrations under the ecoDemonstrator program, the latest of which involves a TUI Group Boeing 757 now undergoing a final round of test flights. Boeing used a 787 and an American Airlines 737 in previous phases of the ecoDemonstrator program. The 737 flights, which centered on adaptive wing and regenerative fuel cell technologies, resulted in the development of a new winglet for the 737 Max expected to improve fuel efficiency by as much as 1.8 percent.