Vicomtech participates in the European NEXTAIR project for the development of innovative green aircraft design technologies


The path to green aviation

The civil aviation sector has reached a historical turning point. Nowadays, the sector is facing two unavoidable challenges:

  • Air traffic continues to grow at a staggering rate. It was doubling every 15 years before the advent of Covid-19. However, it is expected to quickly return to the same trend in the next few years.
  • Aviation is also confronted with environmental sustainability: the aviation sector accounts for ~3% of global emissions, with three main contributors to climate change: CO2 emissions, NOX emissions and aviation-induced cloudiness, such as contrails.

By 2050, an estimated 10 billion passengers will travel 20 trillion revenue passenger kilometers each year. With the current fleet and operational efficiency, this activity would require more than 570 megatons (Mt) of fuel and generate some 1 800 Mt of CO2. Faced with future energy and climate costs, aviation needs to evolve and adapt. Accommodating the same number of passengers while reducing CO2 emissions by 82% to 325 Mt or less by 2050 and potentially zero by 2060 is one of the aviation sector's biggest challenges.

Hence, radical changes in aircraft configurations, propulsion and operations are required to meet the target of climate neutral aviation. To foster this transformation, innovative digital methodologies are of utmost importance to enable the optimization of aircraft performances.

NEXTAIR's objectives

The NEXTAIR project ("NEXTAIR - multi-disciplinary digital - enablers for NEXT-generation AIRcraft design and operations") was funded under the Cluster 5 – Climate, Energy and Mobility, Destination 5 - Clean and competitive solutions for all transport modes, Call - Next generation digital aircraft transformation in design, manufacturing, integration and maintenance1 launched by the European Commission (EC).

With a budget of €4.7 million, the final goal of the project is to contribute to development of green and innovative solutions in the field of aeronautics towards climate-neutral aircraft configuration. The project will elaborate innovative digital technologies with a view to reducing the environmental impact of aeronautics while easing their usability and flexible integration in industrial design and maintenance processes.

In this respect, NEXTAIR proposes digital tools covering the entire aircraft life cycle to facilitate the maturation of advanced technologies, their seamless commissioning and the intelligent assessment of their health status. These technologies will be tested through 8 industrial test cases, representative of the multi-physics industrial design, maintenance and environmental challenges that are of interest to aircraft and engine manufacturers.

In a nutshell, NEXTAIR's overall vision is divided into three main pillars:

  • Advanced digital models with imporved predictive capabilities
  • Efficient Robust Design to achieve safe and reliable performance
  • Digital Twin to enable real-time prediction on in-service components.

Altogether, NEXTAIR’s mere objective is to enable next generation digital aircraft transformation through development and demonstration of new digital methods combining the most advanced High-Fidelity modelling capabilities with new data-driven techniques. It will enable the robust design and flawless entry-into-service of the next generation of climate-neutral aircraft configurations, with improved operational reliability and smart maintenance technologies.

A promising consortium

The consortium is coordinated by the French Aersopace Lab, ONERA, France's leading aeronautics, space and defence research organization.

NEXTAIR brings together a consortium of 16 partners from 6 different countries:

  • 9 well-known research organisations: ONERA, DLR, ICL, INRIA, IRT, NTUA, UNICA, USFD, VICOMTECH
  • 4 leading aeronautical companies: AIRBUS, DASSAULT, ROLLS ROYCE, SAFRAN
  • 3 innovative SMEs: OPT, FOSS and ERDYN.

 This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101056732


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48014 Bilbao (Spain)

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