Aerospace Technology Demonstration: BLADE, the Flagship Laminar Flow Project within the Clean Sky Programme 2017-01-2016
In the year 2000 the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) was established in order to provide research and policy guidance to the European Commission. “Flightpath 2050” was published in 2011 to provide a long term frame for collaborative technology research, soon followed by a “Strategic Agenda For Research and Innovation”. This agenda has been successful in providing a common and coherent reference for the 27 member states of the European Union, and others, to guide future actions in private and public research programs in order to meet societal and market needs. In June 2017 an update to the agenda was published at the Paris airshow, to reflect the rapid progress made in aviation technology and to respond multiplicity of changed circumstances which the agenda must address. The Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative is a key means of delivering the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda, and it is the principal pre-competitive research and technology program in Europe. The Clean Sky program has been a public/private investment of 1.6€B by 600 partners over the period 2009 to 2017, which is now coming to a conclusion. It comprised six sub-programs working on civil technology demonstrations. This paper presents the progress made on the Smart Fixed Wing Aircraft sub-program, notably on the BLADE laminar flow technology demonstrator. A commentary is given on the means of technology demonstrations that were employed during the eight years of the program, as the various technology readiness levels have been achieved. A short video is presented highlighting the physical progress on BLADE before its planned first flight in late 2017. The lecture concludes with a short discussion of the merits and challenges associated with the physical demonstration of aviation technology, notably as digitalization is more and more a driver in the industry.