An on-going partnership between KLM and Delft University of Technology has since 2007 been researching technologies that will help aviation move forward sustainably. The ‘CleanEra’ project, which is an acronym for Cost-effective Low Emissions And Noise Effective Revolutionary Aircraft, has been pursuing four goals for aircraft, that they should produce: no emission footprint (i.e. be carbon neutral); minimum noise footprint; increased quality and safety and easy maintenance.

CleanEra hopes to achieve these goals by following a structured approach to create multiple interconnected new technologies, which could produce impressive results. The overall stated aim of the project is to produce an aircraft that is 50% more efficient and produces 50% less noise and their expectation is that the aircraft could be flight-ready by 2025.

To create the aircraft CleanEra are attempting to strike the right balance between propulsive, aerodynamic and structural efficiency; improving each of these different efficiencies whilst at the same time minimising the negative impact altering one might have on another. According to the researchers it is this complete approach to aircraft technological innovation that singles out CleanEra from other research projects, which often focus on one particular type of new technology without taking into account the aircraft as a whole.

The project is, of course, very ambitious, but the researchers feel that their innovative, holistic approach to technological research is looking promising. If CleanEra is successful in its work, their research could play an instrumental role in helping the aviation industry reach its global climate goals.