Innovation: Reduced Emissions Of Transport Aircraft Operations By Fleetwise Implementation Of New Technology

Last update: 30.06.2013
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The RETROFIT project will analyze the possibilities and attractiveness to retrofit the large existing fleet of commercial airliners with new technical solutions. A new generation of airliners is only at the horizon. Existing aircraft still have a long life to serve. But the operational environment is changing. Airlines are confronted with emission trading limits, new noise rules, increasing fuel prices and new safety and security demands. Aircraft need to operate in a new ATM environment where older aircraft cannot comply with the new ATM standards. Furthermore the passengers expect to enjoy the highest levels of comfort possible.

The project will address the stakeholder requirements first. Based on that it will investigate current and future technology options to retrofit existing aircraft. The need to perform additional research to make retrofits attractive will be addressed as well as the question if specific research activities should be integrated in the Framework programs. The issue of design for retrofit will be addressed. Special attention will be given to certification as modified aircraft should be accepted as derivatives of existing types in order to keep certification time and cost as low as possible.

A cost benefit analysis will be made based on existing airline fleets and potential applications of new technical solutions. It will result in an assessment which airplanes can be retrofitted with what new technologies. Furthermore an assessment will be made about funding mechanisms for promising business cases. The results of the project will be widely disseminated. Promising cases can lead to a substantial economic activity in many European countries.
The orientation phase, WP1 Product requirements identification identified and provided an initial set of answers to:
- understand the motives to decisions by the industry to (not) retrofit and (not) to extend the use of older types of aircraft;
- define categories of industry stakeholders for which retrofit programs are of interest;
- identify solutions to change the current perception on the subject in favour of extended use of older type of aircraft and commercial benefits of retrofit programmes;
- identify possible areas, which if properly stimulated, can result in retrofit of existing aircraft to meet the industries need.

The inventory phase, WP2 Technology inventory addressed the analysis of the technical opportunities for retrofitting that new technologies and processes offer. The WP has therefore made an inventory of new technologies and processes, including RTD results obtained from late FP5 (Y2001 onwards), FP6 and FP7 and in national programmes. In order to direct the inventory towards retrofit applicability the inventory l included an assessment of the potential for application in retrofit programmes and of the needs for additional RTD to increase this potential. It has also identified gaps in the coverage of the aeronautical domain. This has resulted in a long list of potential technologies and processes for use within this project.

In the inventory phase WP3 Airworthiness and certification the certification issues has been identified as they may result from large-scale retrofit programmes. Development, manufacturing and operation of transport aircraft is fully regulated by the authorities, via certification standards, such as the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) as defined by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Certification standards (CS) by European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Modifications to existing aircraft must be approved either under the existing type certificate or under a Supplemental type certificate (STC). Generally, such modifications may also be subject to regulations concerning design, production, maintenance, training and other subjects.

WP4 integrated the results obtained in the orientation phase. Requirements from WP1 have been matched to the technological solutions from WP2, taking into account the certification issues from WP3, and leading to the identification of potential retrofit programmes. Next the cost-benefit analysis of these programmes has been carried out. Most promising programmes can then either be ready for technology take-up by the industry, for which the industrial consequences have been analysed, or may need further RTD to prepare for technology take-up.

The technology take-up phase WP5 has focused on the factors that will influence the market take up of retrofit projects that have potential positive cost benefit characteristics. It has addressed possible ways in which the EC, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and specific initiatives funded under the auspices of the Competitiveness and innovation framework (CIP), which could stimulate the application of retrofits. WP5 also addressed broad range dissemination of the projects results to emerging retrofit market stakeholders and potential opportunities for exchange and networking (via established internet professional networks, and the disseminations workshops).
The RETROFIT project has concluded a number of activities:
- it consulted operators and the industry to understand the basics of retrofits;
- it has identified technologies that are candidate technologies for retrofits;
- it has looked into the rationale for previous retrofits;
- it has identified research topics that could be beneficial for retrofitting;
- it has looked at funding opportunities for the implementation of retrofits;
- it has investigated the benefit / cost of retrofits, both in terms of commercial benefits and societal benefits.

The RETROFIT project recommends:
- to stimulate the air transport sector and the research community to look for retrofit opportunities in view of the extended use of aircraft in the European theatre;
- to stimulate the sector to come forward with new retrofit proposals in the future;
- to stimulate PIP initiatives.

Recommendations to EC
This section presents recommendations to EC with respect to RTD for retrofit to be used for the work programmes of FP7, as well as for the Horizon 2020 - the Research and innovation considering FP

Aircraft have a long life to serve. Consequentially the global commercial air transport fleet consists for a large part of aircraft flying with technologies of the past. To obtain the maximum societal benefits from new technologies for aircraft, retrofitting needs to be encouraged. The European industry should take a competitive role in the retrofit market.

In current European RTD projects on new aircraft technologies the potential application for retrofits gets hardly any attention. The global society is therefore missing benefits from new technologies, whereas the potential retrofit market is hardly explored by European companies.

The following is recommended:
- It is recommended to require any RTD proposal for technology development for new aircraft to address the potential for retrofit. In promising cases for retrofit the RTD proposal should in addition dedicate a WP to this topic.
- It is recommended to take specific action to decrease the certification cost and time of retrofits. The high certification cost due to the currently needed repetition of costly tests is preventing the economic application of many new technologies. On the other hand, the recent progress in virtual (that is, software model based) testing reveals a potential to reduce the certification cost of retrofits. It is therefore recommended to stimulate the research on virtual testing and to encourage virtual certification.
- It is recommended to stimulate the research and development on the specific retrofit topics:
i) to incorporate research topics for retrofits in the next call of the RTD FP, through feasibility studies (level 0), maturing promising technologies through level 1;
projects and integrate retrofit technologies in level 2 projects; ii) to demonstrate retrofit technologies in Clean Sky and SESAR;
iii) to stimulate and facilitate the implementation of retrofits that also benefit societal issues like environmental protection, reduce oil dependency, increase safety and security and ensure mobility by the use of TEN T, structure and regional funds.

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This innovation is the result of the project

Title: Reduced Emissions Of Transport Aircraft Operations By Fleetwise Implementation Of New Technology


01.11.2010 to 29.02.2012

completed project

Organisations and people involved in this eco-innovation.

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Role in project: Project Coordination

Contact person: Mr. KNEGT Marinus Bastiaan


Phone: +31-252-627202




Contact person: Mr. DE GRAAFF Adriaan

Phone: +31-630403745



Field: Engineering, Transportation (Netherlands)

Contact person: Mr. JESSE Evert


Phone: +31-23 554 2255




Contact person: Mr. QUESTIER Benjamin

Phone: +33-478987611




Contact person: Ms. SIMITSOPOULOU Lena

Phone: +30-2102220008




Contact person: Dr. KOS Johan


Phone: +31-205113494