Trinity College DublinEngineers at Trinity College Dublin have been chosen to lead a third EU consortium which will significantly reduce the noise pollution of a novel plane design which is currently being developed in Europe. This third project, “ARTIC”, worth €1.4 million, is a collaborative project, which will develop a novel, quieter landing gear system for the next generation “greener” aircraft. ‘ARTIC’ will see the engineers work with EU industry partners, such as aircraft manufacturer Alenia Aermacchi, SME’s and researchers from other EU institutes and universities as they seek to minimise a significant and growing source of noise pollution in the modern world.

ARTIC will be run via Clean Sky (FP7), which is a Public Private Partnership between the European Commission and the Aeronautical Industry. Clean Sky was set up with sustainable development in mind, and associated projects seek to bring significant changes to the way aeroplane manufacturers design and develop new equipment in response to their damaging environmental impact.

In excess of 2 billion people use air transport each year, and although the carbon emissions only amount to around 2% of the total man-made emissions, this is set to increase to 3% by 2050. In addition, noise pollution is a growing concern with increased flight traffic affecting hundreds of thousands of people living near major airports and frequently used flight paths.

Dr Gareth J BennettAssistant Professor in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering in the School of Engineering at Trinity, Dr Gareth J. Bennett, is the coordinator of all three projects including ARTIC. He said: “The standard plane we hop on to fly to Paris is fuel-inefficient for such a short-haul distance. In addition, the fuel and noise emissions into our environment need to be reduced. The Clean Sky Partnership will result in a replacement aircraft design which will be significantly greener, and it will happen soon.”

ARTIC will build on research and development led by Dr Bennett and his team on two other ongoing Clean Sky projects, called ‘WENEMOR’ and ‘ALLEGRA’. All three projects coordinated by Trinity will contribute directly to the overarching Green Regional Aircraft (GRA) EU programme, directed by Alenia Aermacchi. This programme will result in the GRA being the most commonly used aircraft in Europe in the next few years for short-haul trips, and will be used as the aircraft of choice by airlines.

The WENEMOR consortium (€2M) designed and built a 1/7th-scale aircraft and cutting edge design Counter Rotating Open Rotor (CROR) propeller engines, while the ALLEGRA team (€2M) are currently testing new noise abatement technologies to reduce the noise made by the landing gear, which exceeds engine noise on the approach to landing and which is a serious issue to the health of the communities living and working in the vicinity of airports.

Dr Bennett added: “Noise is a significant bottle-neck to the growth of the EU aviation industry, which is a huge employer. Airbus and Alenia Aermacchi, for example, are trying to design quieter aircraft to remain competitive against US manufacturers, such as Boeing.”

Dr Gareth J Bennett and teamAfter testing the new landing gear design, which was built at half-scale, Dr Bennett and his team will now make the equipment and underside of the GRA aircraft at full-scale as a main component of project ARTIC. They will put the combined model through its paces in the largest wind tunnel in Europe (DNW-LLF), which is 20m high and located in Holland.

“Testing such a design at this scale has never been done before in Europe and the EU Aviation industry is eagerly awaiting our results. It is very exciting to be part of this project, which I’m sure will make a huge contribution to improving the sustainability of air transportation in the coming years,” added Dr John Kennedy, Research Fellow in Dr Bennett’s group, and a senior technical manager working on each of these projects.

“AleniaAermacchi are extremely pleased with Trinity’s capacity to coordinate these large scale projects and have already indicated that  they would like us to engage with Cleansky2, which is due to start at the end of the year and which is part of Horizon 2020.”

Peer-reviewed research notes on the WENEMOR tests can be accessed here.

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