On the way to clean aviation

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Aircraft fuel consumption can be reduced by lowering drag and wing weight. This is the goal set by the partners in the EU project HERWINGT on the road to climate-neutral aviation. The aim is to create a short-haul aircraft for up to 100 passengers that produces 50 % fewer emissions by 2035.

© shutterstock/Sergey Novikov
The HERWINGT project aims to develop optimized wings for hybrid electric aircraft and thus ensure that flying becomes more climate-friendly.

European air traffic needs to be climate-neutral by 2050. To achieve this, European aviation stakeholders are working not only on hydrogen and battery electric engines but also on optimizing the wings. Their design can save up to 15 % fuel. This requires a reduction in drag of more than 15 % and a reduction in weight of more than 20 %.

In the recently launched HERWINGT project, 25 partners want to precisely address this and develop optimized high-performance wings. To reduce drag, both aerodynamics and the assembly process need to be optimized. On the materials side, the use of new materials, improved structural and system integration and enhanced condition monitoring will reduce not only drag but also the weight of the wings. Together, this will lead to a reduction in fuel consumption. Finally, all components and systems of the planned regional aircraft are to be designed, monitored, and estimated in terms of their remaining service life via digital twins.

Fraunhofer IKTS supports the project on behalf of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in the development of advanced condition monitoring, which is of relevance due to the novel structural concepts and materials selection. Fraunhofer IKTS is developing the data acquisition system and the required electronic components for this purpose. Furthermore, a prototype of the data acquisition system is to be realized for a final demonstrator. In addition to sensor systems for evaluating the structural condition of the wings, a system for ice detection is planned.

The major goal of the project partners is to have a regional and short-haul aircraft for 100 passengers with a range of up to 1000 km on the market by 2035, powered by synthetic fuels or hydrogen and producing 50 % less emissions. 

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