HERA Enabling Technologies

Several HERA-enabling technologies will resolve the integration of any given system or major component on a realistic regional A/C trading:
  • traditional technologies with new ones
  • traditional technologies at very new performances
  • brand new technologies for aeronautics
  • brand new technologies in absolute terms

To accomplish the above targets, HERA is planning:
i) a robust and well-defined technology development path to get the required performance at propulsion, system, aircraft and industrialization level shared by a specific innovation management with both the aviation sector and beyond as required; ii) the careful integration –aircraft level- of all those results and innovations in realistic aircraft concepts by feasible aircraft solutions promising a relevant impact and productivity to operators and passengers; iii) the results smoothly concur in a set of ground and flight demonstrators paving the way to the real aircraft ready for 2035 EIS

  • the contribution of the highly disruptive technologies studied
  • other technologies on new power sources, such as batteries, fuel cell, and hydrogen in general.
  • their disciplined integration along the many other technologies required for aircraft functioning, such as avionics, structural design, mechanical systems, and fire protection
  • the ability to evaluate feasibility and impact of solutions against new metrics –the reference economical, operative, societal and environmental frame is changing due to the target of 50% of fuel burn reduction.

Interactions among all those contributing factors and activities are many, having often bi-directionality and a strong interdependency and cause-effect relations.


New Aircraft Architecture & Configuration: an entirely new regional aircraft design eventually exploiting disruptive configurations depending on the actual powertrain choice, power source and hybridization share. The new design process shall include the GHG emission as a new key driver supplemental to the traditional ones thus requiring a new approach, tools and input and exit criteria to the system engineering design phases and type and details of supporting analysis and documentation

Digital simulation: Digitalization will be a powerful enabler to achieve HERA objectives to integrate propulsion and related systems exploiting all their potentials on the performance and market impact by a combination of industry 4.0 and digital design and manufacturing approaches.
HERA digital scenario has the objective to be compatible with a future Digital Design, Manufacturing & Services (DDMS) in order what done in HERA is compatible with the global digital and virtual testing certification principles.

Advanced Electrical Distribution: The hybrid-electric propulsion requires a deep reconsideration of aircraft electric power system (EPS) network. A substantial, radical increase in airborne electrical energy usage to MW level is expected to cope and manage electrification of primary, or propulsive, power and on-board systems. Depending on size and degree of hybridization, total power would be in the range from 4 to 10 MW for regional platforms. The single electrical channel shall address an electric distributed propulsive system of 1 MW minimum with its specific power management to ensure safety to allow certification. The distribution of power levels representing several MW will require an increase of the network voltage level to control system weight and volume. The key functions shall be considered including power/energy generating and storage, power distribution, power conversion, power consumption (loads) and efficient control integrating electric machines, power electronic converters, power distribution (harness and circuit protections) and controls (including communications and data exchange). Batteries or fuel cells will allow for the provision of additional or total propulsion power during specific phases of flight. Modularity shall be the key concept pursued in developing building blocks operating at high voltage and power levels as the way to exploit the results in future and/or other aircraft platforms.

Thermal Management for Hybrid-Electric A/C: The envisioned Climate-Neutral and Zero Emissions Aircraft architecture requires a further step in technology of the air and cooling systems compared to state of the art commercial aircraft approach. The system must be tailored to ensure still optimal thermal comfort and proper on-board system functioning but to manage new features such as hydrogen storage, H2 burn, fuel cell, more electrical systems, embedded (HVDC) electrical networks, achieving latest fresh air flow regulations and new cabin air quality standards. Thermal management proposal for hybrid electric aircraft shall exploit and optimize heat sinks and sources providing the overall strategy addressing: i) equipment cooling -local, distributed, active or passive- to manage heat dissipation from new power sources; ii) adequate cooling and pressurization at no or less compressed air from propulsion; iii) management of thermal issues from liquid hydrogen storage and distribution; iv) air quality cabin and comfort.

Airframe integration: Integration driven by the new propulsion technologies and related systems and safety requirement shall ensure feasibility at aircraft level of that solution. It will affect any major aircraft item -wing, fuselage and empennage- and most of aircraft systems. Integrations shall support trade-off analyses performed at A/C level for the different architectures for the given “use cases” about performance, certification, systems interfaces, materials, maintainability and fulfilment of operative conditions. Integration solution will foster also to reduce the development cycles, time to market, and means of compliance for certification and qualification. Digital solutions, methods and tools for Virtual Certification concepts are key elements to be considered in early stages of the design. The results shall provide to HERA most promising new technologies and airframe integration solutions; feasibility studies supported by models, simulations, limited tests at coupon levels; structure schemes and multifunctional components, and their integration solutions; manufacturing of critical items.

New power sources: Hybrid-electric propulsion will be possible only by means of new energy sources having reduced or no GHG emission during their production and during usage. Apart SAF that is already successfully demonstrating the capability to reduce GHG emission of existing thermal engines and for that is out of scope of Clean Aviation targets, two other innovative power sources are relevant: batteries and hydrogen. Their basic development to explore specifically basic chemistry and physics supporting their performance, manufacturing, logistics and disposal that is beyond Clean Aviation scope is performed in dedicated initiatives at European, national and international level

The interactions among all the above-mentioned technology paths are many having often bi-directionality and a strong interdependency and cause-effect relations