Aside from quietening air transport, greening is the second major challenge for future vehicles and power plants. Green and seamless air transport will require new propulsive concepts and technologies as well as new energy sources (drop-in or non-drop-in fuels, electrification) as an alternative to fossil energy sources.

Flightpath 2050 sets ambitious goals relating to environment and energy supply in aviation. The ambition is to improve eco-friendliness of aerial vehicles and to cut CO2 and NOx emission by 75 % and 90 % respectively while preserving European Competitiveness.

One first step for the European aviation community is to enlarge the adoption of alternative fuels which is a rather mature technology but needs the full deployment in daily business for the complete A/C fleet.

Substantial energy saving and pollution reduction are expected by the introduction of Hybrid-Electric Aircraft and by implementing in the Airports emission-free ground handling and taxiing.

Future Sky Theme 3 will deal with new propulsions systems and concepts, innovative aircraft architectures, and energy on board systems. The objective is to focus on medium and long term R&TD preparing the scientific and technical basis for the European Air Transport System beyond 2035 aiming at zero CO2 emissions.

Within the Future Sky Theme 3 the following technologies will be considered:

  • hybrid and electrical engines/propulsion systems;
  • innovative energy sources (Batteries, Fuel cells);
  • innovative configurations of air vehicles with breakthrough technologies (e.g. aerodynamics, aerostructures, flight mechanics);
  • energy management and on board electric equipment;
  • emission-free ground handling and taxiing in airports.

Furthermore, demonstration both on-ground and in-flight (subscale demonstrators) for hybrid propulsion and for fully electric propulsion will be addressed.

Finally, the adoption of the alternative fuels will be addressed considering different aspects both technological and operational. Some aspects related to alternative fuels with respect to economic and ecological impact, together with a general life cycle assessment for new hybrid electric technologies, will be performed in coordination with Future Sky Theme 6 dedicated to Circular Aviation.

Application of hybrid-electric technology will be relevant to the UAM and specific activities will have to be coordinated with Future Sky Theme 4.