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NLR in 2011 SUSTAINABILITY

Airborne reboarding

Large aircraft that fly fixed routes and smaller aircraft that take on additional passengers and fuel en route. A futuristic image, certainly, yet a consortium, led by NLR, received a European research grant in 2011 to seriously study the potential of such 'cruiser-feeder' operations for civil aircraft.

The concept involves a 'cruiser' flying at cruising altitude above mainports, such as Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Smaller aircraft - the 'feeders' - pick up passenger modules and place them on board the cruiser. At the same time, fuel, baggage, supplies and waste are exchanged between the cruiser and the feeder. The cruiser then continues flying for thousands of kilometres more, with this procedure being repeated along the way.

The expectation is that, in the distant future, a form of this cruiser-feeder operation will result in substantial fuel savings. This scenario can be made plausible when, as a special case, only fuel is exchanged between a cruiser and a feeder. In such cases, fuel savings of 31% are expected based on flights of 6,000 nautical miles (approximately 11,000 km) that carry 250 passengers, with one refuelling midway en route. Compared to all the other technologies aimed at making aircraft more fuel-efficient, this particular operation offers huge potential savings.

The research is focusing on three main bottlenecks. Which cruiser-feeder concepts are possible? What exactly is required such that the cruiser-feeder concept will fully meet the airworthiness requirements that apply to civil aviation? How significant are the potential benefits? In order to answer these questions, a design study will be conducted for the cruiser and the feeder. In addition, the research will focus on the automation of the docking, a key requirement for guaranteeing safety. Finally, flight simulation experiments will be conducted to study the cruiser-feeder concept.



 
Large aircraft that fly fixed routes and smaller aircraft that take on additional passengers and fuel en route. A futuristic image, certainly, yet a consortium, led by NLR, received a European research grant in 2011 ...
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Robust composites
Reduce emissions
Modelling salt marshes
Cruiser-feeder
Wind turbine simulation
 
 
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