Brussels, 02 Jun 2004
On 12-13 May 2004 in Berlin, university scientists and industrial representatives gathered to exchange views and plot the way forward in aeronautical research. The workshop, entitled 'Academic vision for aeronautical research for tomorrow', was the fifth in a series organised by EASN, the European Aeronautics Science Network.
"Our European universities are among the finest, if not the finest in the world," said EASN Scientific Coordinator Spiros Pantelakis. "But this is not reflected in the level of contribution they are making in the aeronautics sector. This is why we are here today. Our goal is to upgrade the role of our academic institutions and to strengthen the ties between academia, other research bodies and industry."
What is EASN?
EASN is an open network for European universities working in aeronautics. Its aim is to strengthen their position in the harmonisation and integration of research activities and programmes in the European Research Area (ERA).
To this end, EASN has developed the concept of the 'Interest Group' aimed at enhancing co-operation between European academic scientists, research establishments and industry by focusing on innovative ideas and upstream research. EASN Interest Groups have already been responsible for a number of joint European research proposals within the EU's Sixth Framework Programme for RTD (FP6).
EU support strong and targeted
Representing the European Commission, Dietrich Knoerzer said, "Despite some recent difficulties in the sector, we believe that air traffic will continue to grow, tripling in magnitude by the year 2020. To meet this challenge we need a bold vision and a strategy, and the academic community has an important part to play in this."
The aeronautics sector has not been idle, said Knoerzer. The Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), developed by the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE), already spells out a number of key goals in Europe's bid to (1) maintain its position as a world leader in aeronautics and (2) respond to its citizens' air transport needs.
"As we enter the age of sustainable transport," he said, "we have set ambitious goals for European aeronautics. Meeting these goals, for example the 50% reduction in CO2 emissions, requires a quantum leap in technology. This is where breakthrough research performed by universities can play a role."
Focus on technology areas
The EASN workshop included sessions covering specific technology areas:
- Flight Physics;
- Aircraft avionics systems and equipment;
- Flight mechanics;
- Integrated design and validation;
- Air traffic management;
- Human factors;
- Innovative concepts and scenarios.
These areas correspond largely with the priority themes under the SRA. Security was also cited as a rising concern, in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Aeronautics researchers are likely to play a leading role in the EU's new Security Research activities.
"What we need is more and better coordination," said Adriaan de Graaf, representing the Association of European Research Establishments in Aeronautics (EARA). "By bringing together universities with an interest in aeronautics, EASN has created a well-defined partner for collaborative research and the European aeronautics industry is ready to enter into partnership with it."
Again, the EC's Knoerzer: "What we are looking for from universities is a pool of researchers with sound basic knowledge and an openness to new and innovative ideas. With the emphasis now clearly on international partnership, a multidisciplinary and multicultural approach is a key part of this, and we need researchers who are flexible and mobile."
About the Berlin Air Show
The International Aerospace Exhibition and Conference (ILA), also known as the Berlin Air Show, ran from 10-16 May. Organised every two years by BDLI, the event highlights the latest developments in the international aerospace industry and in civil, military and private aviation fields.
Organisers say this year's ILA2004 saw the finalisation of large-scale orders and contracts, conferences with high-ranking participants, and an extensive programme of visits by delegations from industry, politics and the armed forces. The underlying mood was one of confidence regarding the continued development of the aerospace sector. Business conducted at the fair included a $900 million order placed by the American carrier Spirit Airlines for 15 aircraft from the Airbus A320 series.
Organisers say the EASN workshop provided an excellent opportunity for aeronautics researchers to come together and to forge new relationships. But the real outcome will take the form of concrete research proposals that lead to real benefits, both for the industry and the European citizen.
The Commission is currently considering the results of the second FP6 Aeronautics call for proposals. The next call is expected in mid-2005.
The European Research Area
EU Security Research initiative grabs aeronautics sector's attention
ILA: the Berlin Air Show