The Short-haul aircraft

Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)


Outlook: Quiet short-haul aircraft operate between regional airports using short runways.

Requirements: In Germany, there are about four times the number of regional airports with a paved runway of at least 1000 metres than major international airports. In the future, new short-haul aircraft with passenger and cargo capacities corresponding to the Airbus A320 family need to be able to take off from and land on these short runways. These aircraft should have a low noise impact to keep the noise exposure for those living in the vicinity of airports as low as possible during the day and at night. Connections which operate quiet short take-off and landing aircraft between regional airports and from regional airports to international airports will be able to relieve major airports and offset emerging capacity bottlenecks. At present, night-time bans and a lack of options for expansion constrain the potential growth of international airports in Germany and Europe. It is important to secure worldwide growth in air transport and provide sustainable solutions, such as the Quiet Short Take-off and Landing (QSTOL) concept. DLR wants to further develop this concept.

Objective: DLR will design and evaluate a short-haul aircraft which will meet the QSTOL requirements for quiet take-offs and landings on short runways. In the design phase, the question will already be considered how such an aircraft will be integrated into the overall air transport system. The noise footprint of short-haul aircraft should remain within the tight limits of a regional airport. The objective is to achieve noise levels below 60 decibels outside airport premises, which corresponds to the volume of a normal conversation. It will be imperative to develop and integrate appropriate noise abatement measures for aircraft engines, wings and fuselage, and to plan flight paths smartly with a low noise impact.

To develop passenger and cargo capacities for short-haul aircraft similar to those of the A320 family, solutions need to be found which reduce the aircraft weight and its fuel consumption. One approach is to consider various engine concepts, from advanced propeller engines and highly-efficient jet engines to innovative hybrid engines. Likewise, concepts for a faster turnaround on the ground need to be developed.

Besides, the planned short-haul aircraft will need to perform as many flights as possible per day to be cost-effective. Hence, it will be necessary to minimise the efforts for maintenance and extend the maintenance intervals while still ensuring safe flights. Turnarounds at airports and the requirements for a transport infrastructure need to be adjusted to manage the journey of large numbers of passengers to and from regional airports for example.

A320 aircraft are designed for distances of up to 4500 kilometres but are primarily used for shorter journeys. In Europe, for example, approximately 50 per cent of all flights cover distances of less than 750 kilometres, and 80 per cent can be attributed to distances below 1500 kilometres. If this flexibility in the operational range of aircraft is no longer required, major benefits in terms of fuel consumption and short take-off and landing capabilities can be achieved. Therefore, the Top-level Aircraft Requirements (TLAR) are of key importance when a short-haul aircraft is designed.

Last modified:
14/11/2017 14:03:17