Eco-Design demonstrators for rotorcraft (GRC6)


Eco-Design technological objectives directly derive from the ACARE goal: "To make substantial progress in reducing the environmental impact of the manufacture, maintenance and disposal of aircraft and related products".
More specifically the goal is twofold:

  • Designing equipped airframe with a minimum of inputs (raw materials, energy, water,...), outputs and nuisances (energy /warming, liquid and gaseous effluents, solid waste, etc) all along the life cycle;
  • Suppressing non-renewable and/or noxious substances during operations and maintenance, while keeping the aircraft at the appropriate level of quality and performance.

In the EDA (Eco-Design for Airframe) subproject of the ED-ITD, Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) tools suited to aeronautical industry are developed and a whole range of new materials and manufacturing processes are screened and experimented. EDA also integrate some demonstrators submitted to tests in all phases of the life cycle: manufacturing, maintenance and disposal.Nevertheless these EDA demonstrators address only conventional turbojet airframes. In order to investigate the difficulties associated with helicopter specific components, the GRC6 subproject provides for additional demonstrators, as briefly
outlined here after. 


Composite thermoplastic structures

Two demonstrators will be elaborated and tested:

  • A helicopter door;
  • A tail cone.

Helicopter doors which equip non pressurized cabins feature very large windows and need to match conflicting requirements of very light construction, high stiffness, and low acoustic transmissivity. The tail cone is a load carrying structure which transfers tail forces to the central fuselage and supports the tail rotor transmission shaft. Both demonstrators are to be designed and manufactured by using 'ecolonomic' materials and processes to achieve cost and weight savings. Fibre reinforced thermoplastic materials are considered most appropriate to reach these objectives. The engineering approach relies on integrated design, reduced number of manufacturing steps, fully recyclable products and ease to dismantle for recycling.
The door demonstrator will be developed in close collaboration with the DEfcodoor Partner Consortium led by the University of Munich. On the other hand, the Partner Centro di Progettazione, Design & Tecnologie dei materiali (ECO-Fairs project) will provide design and technological support for the structural components development.

Mechanical & transmission components

The demonstrators to be elaborated and tested incorporate the following parts:

  • Gear box housings (MGB, IGB, TGB);
  • Transmission shafts (main rotor, intermediate).

These demonstrators will ban the use of materials and processes appearing in the ASD list of "Priority Declarable Substances" (PDSL, implementing the REACH regulation) e.g. Cadmium/CrVI for protection of alloy steel components, strontium, barium, etc. The envisaged solutions are based on: Keronite, Microarc, and HAE for magnesium protection, CrVI free chemical surface
treatment for oil duct protection inside gearboxes, CrVI free temporary protection for intermediate mechanical operations. Zinc-Nickel (with CrVI free post treatments) plating for steel parts and studs, carburizing reserve to replace copper, new anodizing process for aluminium (or sulphuric acid anodising) , new "green" paints (chromate free primer), replacement of "Mastinox " by "Molycote DX " and replacement of some metallic parts by long fibre thermoplastic composites. Production and repair
technologies should feature a low energy consumption and low emission of Volatile Organic Components (VOC).


The GRC6 subproject was launched beginning 2011. The technical materials and processes and LCA tools will be based on those developed in the EDA subproject and on substantial background gained in other projects beside Clean Sky. The technology developments aim at a TRL5 maturity level in 2014, to be reach through the followings steps:

  • Design modifications, including LCA ;
  • Testing of selected components (coupons) ;
  • Prototype manufacturing and protection ;
  • Testing of prototype in a representative environment
  • Dismantling and recycling demonstration on samples
  • Evaluation of results and conclusion

All end-of-life demonstrations will be carried out by Partners to be selected from CFPs. Feedback from GRC6 to EDA will support evaluation of EcoDesign results by the TE.