Sabre: Shape Adaptive Blades for Rotorcraft Efficiency

How the ILO helped

A costed research support role has streamlined EC reporting, strengthened research partnerships and contributed to a good ongoing relationship between UoB as the Lead Coordinator and the European Commission.


SABRE stands for Shape Adaptive Blades for Rotorcraft Efficiency and aims to develop ground-breaking new helicopter blade morphing technologies which will reduce helicopter fuel burn, CO2 and NOx emissions by a projected 5-10%, while also reducing noise emissions. 
This €6million rotorcraft blade engineering project is funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. 
SABRE will help Europe to achieve its ambitious aviation emissions goals while also sharpening its competitive edge in the rapidly growing helicopter market. Leading industry figures, Airbus Helicopters and Leonardo Helicopters, have agreed to serve as Strategic Technology Advisors and will be on hand to ensure this research will significantly increase its relevance to their medium and long-term goals and in doing so will increase the overall impact of the programme.
In total, there are 6 partners involved in the SABRE consortium across 4 countries. The University of Bristol is the coordinator for the project and the project team comprises of one PI, a Co-I, 3 RA’s and a Project Officer (based within ACCIS and the Industrial Liaison Office).
Key impacts stemming from the project:
  • Reducing energy consumption and environmental impact of aviation- reduction in helicopter fuel burn and emissions by 5 – 10% 
  • Improving European industrial competitiveness and reinforcing employment: The results of this project will generate substantial recurring savings in direct operating costs, offsetting the initial cost of the added technology over the life or the airframe thus keeping Europe competitive and securing employment within the industry 
  • Knowledge transfer of morphing technologies:
  • The methods used in SABRE could have positive implications for fixed wing aircraft
  • Through active blade control it is also potentially adaptable to large scale wind turbines, making them more cost efficient
  • Delivering international collaboration for innovation – fostering new partnerships which will help integrate new knowledge into industry after the project end.

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