An important step towards a more sustainable aviation and parcel and passenger transport via drones was taken with the allocation of 1.44 million euros to the Smart Rotors project. The European Fund for Regional Development (EFRO) awarded the grant to TU Delft, Royal NLR, KVE, Airborne and RHIA, with the cooperation of InnovationQuarter. The grant enables the development of ultra-efficient propeller and rotor blades, specifically for hybrid and electric aircraft, Urban Air Mobility and drones.
Smart Rotors: why?
The development of ‘smart rotors’ is an important step towards a more sustainable aviation, less emissions and less noise pollution, as well as parcel delivery via drones and of course will also support the further development of Urban Air Mobility (UAM).
Rotors can be either the blades of a propeller intended for the propulsion of aircraft or the blades of a rotor intended for the propulsion of helicopters and drones. The project aims to design the rotors for hybrid and electric aircraft and drones more efficiently, so that they perform better and produce less noise.
In addition, smarter production methods are being looked into, so that future aircraft and drones can be equipped with suitable propeller and rotor blades faster and on a larger scale. The project is part of the Next Aviation Field lab that focuses on the development, testing and implementation of sustainable aviation technology in a real airport environment at Rotterdam The Hague Airport.
Propellers are more energy efficient
Densely populated areas around airports experience nuisance from flight activities, such as local climate and noise pollution. The project contributes to a reduction of local climate effects in the form of fewer emissions and less noise pollution in and around the airport, with a positive effect on the immediate living environment.
Role of Airborne
Sarah De Smet, program manager Smart Rotors at Airborne: “The potential market for these electric aircraft and drones is very large and therefore the production will be at a much larger scale compared to the current aviation industry numbers. The current production methods can support a reasonable growth but even increasing the amount of automation with the current processes will not be sufficient to support this. During this project we will therefore revisit the production process, develop a concept production line and work on new technologies that are required to realise this production line of the future.”
- Concept design of a line for the manufacturing of the blades & identify the technology required to achieve this
- Development of technologies such as automated preforming with dry fibres
- Proof of concept / pilot line
Like to know more about this project?
Reach out to Sarah De Smet!
The potential market for these electric aircraft and drones is very large and therefore the production will be at a much larger scale compared to the current aviation industry numbers.— Sarah De Smet – Airborne