Retrofit-technologies promote green aviation objectives

Retrofit applications are brand new technologies intended for new aircraft, and which are currently being applied to existing aircraft. The application of new technology in retrofits ensures that the ACARE objectives set for aviation , such as greening and noise reduction , are achieved more quickly.

Due to the long lifecycles of current generations of aircraft, it takes a long time for new aircraft equipped with new technologies to form a substantial part of modern aviation’s fleet of aircraft. This is especially the case for those technologies that focus on collectively reducing emissions, noise levels, and fuel consumption. Retrofit applications specifically involve applying new technologies – developed for new aircraft – to existing aircraft, thus allowing the benefits of new technologies to be achieved earlier – sometimes up to 15 years earlier – and on a much larger scale. Retrofit is a potentially huge market for Dutch manufacturers.

Fokker Services led the EU’s 7th Framework project, ‘Reduced Emissions of Transport aircraft Operations by Fleetwise Implementation of new Technology’ (Retrofit), which was recently completed. Other participants in the retrofit consortium included ADSE (engineering), AD Cuenta (consultancy), PARAGON (a Greek SME), L-Up (France) and National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR).

The Retrofit project studies the opportunities for retrofits and complimentary measures, which the European Commission can then adopt in order to encourage the application of new technology in retrofits and ensure that aviation’s ACARE objectives (including noise reduction and greening) can be rapidly achieved on a larger scale.

A list of 175 potential retrofit technologies was compiled. This list of candidate-technologies for retrofit serves as the foundation for further cost-benefit analyses and risk studies. These studies and analyses specifically focused on ‘electric taxiing’, ‘SESAR’ retrofits and ‘fleet re-engining’. Finally, specific recommendations were given for research subjects in the context of the 7th Framework program and Horizon 2020.

Fokker Services relied on NLR’s support in the Retrofit project, drawing on NLR’s broad technological knowledge in the fields of gas turbines, aerodynamics, lightweight structures, avionics, safety, and equipment. All NLR divisions also provided input for Retrofit.

Recently, NLR hosted a final workshop, at which time all the compiled information about Retrofit was shared and disseminated. During the workshop, it emerged that the representatives from Dutch and European industry would like to see greater promotion of European retrofit research. Those attending the workshop included representatives of Fokker Services, NGAircraft, Dassault Aviation, Lufthansa Technik, Cassidian EADS, BAE Systems and Rockwell Collins. Representatives from AgentschapNL and the European Commission represented government.

The broad representation of aircraft manufacturers, system suppliers and MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) organizations at the workshop is important for gaining an advantage in the collaborative retrofit field, and also served as a clear sign that the Dutch manufacturing industry and NLR are key players in the retrofit field.

Watch the Retrofit video.