Bristol’s Centre for Modelling & Simulation leads project to revolutionise sustainable aircraft design

Quiraing at sunrise.

Bristol-based Centre for Modelling & Simulation (CFMS) a leader in the application of digital engineering has joined aerospace experts from across the UK in a landmark project to transform how aircraft can be designed to be more sustainable.

The project consortium, brings together CFMS, Rolls-Royce, Loganair and University of Strathclyde. With the support of Scottish Enterprise the partners are working together to define the key requirements and performance criteria from an environmental, economic and societal perspective that will collectively make aircraft more sustainable from the outset.

The objective of the project is to develop a new ecologically and economically viable aircraft concept, capable of short haul operations across the Scottish Highlands and Islands. A key aspect of the project is to assess the ability of the Scottish Aviation supply chain to support the industrialisation of such a product. The study will provide the key stepping stone in developing stakeholder understanding of the economic and social impact of such an initiative.

Project Eilean (the Gaelic for Island) is funded by the Scottish Government as part of its drive towards becoming an NetZero economy by 2045. The ‘Protecting Scotland, Renewing Scotland’ strategy aims to drive a green economic recovery and has a strong commitment to regional growth which is dependant on NetZero mobility. The development of sustainable air transportation is critical to that ambition, replacing the ageing fleet of aircraft currently operating on these routes.

Ian Risk, chief technology officer at CFMS, explained: “Maintaining air transport links is vital for many communities where other modes of transport is not an option. Within Project Eilean we hope to take a holistic view of the requirements from a wide range of stakeholders to identify the basis of an aircraft concept that has been optimised for sustainability whilst remaining a truly economic proposition for Scotland.

“The digital engineering skills we have developed over the last ten years will enable the partners to move away from the traditional approach of identifying a single concept based on historic preconceptions. Instead, by taking a truly model-based approach and harnessing the computational power of our facilities we can explore a wide range of potential product options, providing decision makers with a far richer understanding of what is feasible and why. In this way we can ensure that aviation continues to play its vital role in economic development and keeping our communities connected.”

Trade Minister Ivan McKee said: “Project Eilean is a key output of the Rolls-Royce Working Group, which was established by the Scottish Government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and supports our wider ambitions to become a net zero economy by 2045. Decarbonising air travel is a crucial part of that ambition; I am pleased to see this transformational work progressing and I very much look forward to seeing the results.”