Leonardo leads EU funded research Project HERA for a Hybrid-Electric Regional Aircraft

Submitted on Wed, 05/10/2023 - 13:11

The EU funded Project HERA (Hybrid-Electric Regional Aircraft) aims to research innovative solutions and disruptive technologies, as identified in the Clean Aviation Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA), to power the next generation of regional sustainable aircraft. This is in line with the ambitions of the EU Green Deal for a climate neutral future by reducing at least 50% greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 thanks to aircraft solutions that are replacing up to 75% of an in-service fleet by 2050.

Leonardo, founding member of Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking (JU), leads and coordinates the winning proposal “Hybrid-Electric Regional Aircraft” (HERA), which includes48 partners. It aims to define a hybrid-electric propulsion regional aircraft concept and the related performances of disruptive technologies that are relevant to a smooth in-service operation. With EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) support, HERA will also define the key features of the technology demonstration and aircraft testing, which are planned in the second stage of the Clean Aviation project, to enable readiness for the implementation onto a real product. It is anticipated that entry into service (EIS) will be by the middle of the next decade.

Marco Protti, member of the Clean Aviation JU Governing Board and Leonardo Aircraft’s Head of Advanced Research, underlined: “Leonardo’s success in this first call of Clean Aviation confirms our strong commitment to sustainable aviation in the region and short-range segments in either fixed-wing or rotorcraft with the high-quality technical contribution that is offered by Leonardo to the European partners. We are very proud to lead this project and be part of the Clean Sky Joint Technologies Initiatives, and our continuous work in partnership with the EU and the integrated system of Industries, Research Centres, Universities and SMEs on such a promising disruptive Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking Project, where swift adoption of these technologies from 2035 will enable the biggest step-change in aviation sector’s climate impact by 2050”.

Within the Clean Aviation project Leonardo has been selected as the aircraft integrator for the seven winning proposals, which are aimed at developing key technology enablers as required by a regional or short medium range (SMR) low emission aircraft.

AMBERInnovAtive DeMonstrator for hyBrid-Electric Regional Application
CONCERTOConstruction Of Novel CERTification MethOds and Means of Compliance for Disruptive Technologies
HE-ARTHybrid Electric propulsion system for regional AiRcrafT
HECATEHybrid ElectriC regional Aircraft distribution TEchnologies
HERAHybrid Electric Regional Aircraft
HERWINGTInnovative Wing Design for Hybrid-Electric Regional Aircraft
TheMa4HERAThermal Management Solutions for Hybrid-Electric Regional Aircraft

Initial EU funding of EUR 35 million has been allocated to the HERA Consortium beneficiaries for the Project lasting four years.

About HERA: Hybrid-Electric Regional Architecture (HERA) is a research project funded by EU as part of the wider Clean Aviation programme, aiming to identify and trade off the concept of a regional aircraft, and its key architectures. The HERA project, led and coordinated by Leonardo, founding member of Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking, targets to develop the required aircraft-level technologies and integrate the required enablers to meet the 50% less technology-based Green House Gas (GHG) emission set in Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) for a Hybrid-Electric Regional Aircraft. The HERA aircraft project, having a size of approximately 50-100 seats, can operate in the regional and short-range air mobility by mid-2030 on typical distances of less than 500 km, corresponding to intermodal urban regional connections. The HERA aircraft project is based on hybrid-electric propulsion with batteries or fuel cells as energy sources, supported by Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) or hydrogen burning for the thermal source, to reach up to 90% lower emissions while being fully compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) noise rules. HERA aircraft project is also aimed to actual revenue service offering to operators and passengers sustainable, safe, and fast connectivity mean at low GHG emissions. HERA will quantitatively trade innovative aircraft architectures and configurations required to integrate several disruptive enabling technologies including high voltage MW scale.

About Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking: The Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking is the European Union’s leading research and innovation programme for transforming aviation towards a sustainable and climate neutral future. Pulling together the best talent and capabilities of the private and public sectors and developing cutting-edge technologies and making these available for a transformational leap in aircraft performance in the 2030s, the Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking will pave the way towards the EU’s ambition of climate neutrality by 2050. Operating at the centre of a broad and diverse eco-system of players across Europe ranging from the aeronautical community, pioneering SMEs, research establishments and academia, it acts as a hub for new ideas and bold innovations. As a European public-private partnership, Clean Aviation pushes aeronautical science beyond the limits of imagination by creating new technologies that will significantly reduce aviation's impact on the planet, enabling future generations to enjoy the social and economic benefits of air travel far into the future.