In the European Union, where communities without adequate infrastructures struggle to attract investments and create jobs, the introduction of a new, environmentally friendly and cost-efficient air mobility solution can positively impact the life of hundreds of millions of citizens across all 28 member states. While near zero emission CS-25 airliners are still being beyond today’s technological horizon, the key enabling technology maturing in the next decade and the recently approved CS-23 Amdt. 5 enable the development and certification of a 19-passenger hybrid-electric commuter, designed in this project as a community friendly miniliner.
The potential of the proposed design goes beyond a mere cleaner replacement of existing commuters: UNIFIER19 aims at providing an innovative near-zero emission (NZE) air mobility solution for our communities.
The overall objective is to develop a conceptual design for a 19-passenger commuter with multiple cargo and passenger-seating cabin layouts powered by a modular hybrid-electric powertrain. The modularity of the propulsion design enables the development of a single airframe capable of accommodating multiple combinations of propellers, batteries and range-extending technologies each tailored for commercially successful NZE operations on specific markets.
Other objectives are:
- To define the design requirements by estimating the European mobility demand in at least two markets: the miniliner market, aimed at connecting small airports among them via scheduled or on-demand services; and the microfeeder market, where small community airports and unpaved airfields feed travellers to bigger airports served by regularly scheduled commercial air transport.
- To develop a commuter that is as easy to use as a bus, by integrating passenger boarding and authentication technology in the airframe and designing for unpaved runways, this aircraft can take advantage of the sparse underused small airports without overwhelming burdens for new ground infrastructures, providing communities with a new mobility opportunity.
- To reduce CO2, NOx and acoustic emissions by at least 20% compared to the 19 seaters that entered into service in 2014.
- To justify the investment in a project follow-up phase, aimed at building a demonstrator by introducing two metrics in the design process: i) the emission index, aimed to capture the combination of CO2 emissions, NOx emissions and acoustic emissions; and ii) the success index, which aggregates estimations on development, certification and production costs, maintenance complexity, and operating costs to ensure future commercially successful operations.