European aeronautics advisory group presents strategic research agenda

November 15, 2002

Brussels, 14 Nov 2002

The Commission sponsored Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) presented the findings of its first year of work in a comprehensive Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) in Brussels on 13 November. This is the first time in EU history that government representatives, industry and research have jointly developed and endorsed a research plan for the aeronautics sector.

The report addresses the challenges that aviation faces in its third generation, the age of sustainable growth and following the events of 11 September 2001. Air traffic is expected to grow substantially, which will increase noise, emissions, congestion, delays and inconvenience. The SRA aims to optimise research efforts to make air travel safer, cleaner, quieter, more affordable and more secure. The Agenda calls for an overall research investment of up to 100 billion euro over 20 years, and makes a case for joint research projects with technology integration platforms for testing and adopting new technologies, large-scale research test-beds and technological incubators.

'By investing more money and more wisely in research, European aeronautics can simultaneously respond to society's needs and achieve global leadership,' said EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin. 'The Strategic Research Agenda is a first step towards implementing the January 2001 'European Aeronautics: a vision for 2020' report. It lays the foundation for meeting ambitious but achievable objectives,' he said.

'We have received several ideas for aeronautics research topics and this highlights that parties are keen to pool resources to launch integrated projects and networks of excellence in this field. We have bright engineers, excellent research centres and world leading companies. We now need to get organised and join forces across Europe to reach critical mass at EU level and lead the sector at the global level,' the Commissioner continued.

The SRA's safety programme aims to reduce the accident rate by 80 per cent through improving control technology and strengthening the efficiency of ground operations. Research will address the development of permanent automatic approach and landing capability in all weather conditions, self aircraft-separation capability, 100 per cent recovery from human error and automatic protection against catastrophic misjudgements.

The Agenda also intends to help the air transport system triple the 2000 figure for passengers, freight and air traffic by 2020. Another goal is to reduce the time spent by passengers in airports to less than 15 minutes for short haul flights and to less than 30 minutes for long haul travel. In addition, 99 per cent of flights should depart within 15 minutes of their advertised scheduled departure time in all weather conditions.

The environmental challenges are no less important, especially against a backdrop of global warming. This is underlined by the targets in the SRA relating to noise, fuel consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, all of which are to be reduced by 50 per cent, and nitrogen oxide (NOx) levels, which should decrease by 80 per cent.

Reductions to CO2 emissions will be made by undertaking research in aerodynamics and weight reduction and by improving the configuration of present technology. Research will also develop novel aircraft concepts such as the flying wing and alternative aircraft fuel such as hydrogen.

After 11 September, security is a high priority, and recommendations are made to increase the scale of research into ensuring hijackings are unsuccessful and that planes can be remotely controlled and landed automatically.

The SRA emphasises the need to view European aeronautics within a global context. The United States spends twice as much on non-military aeronautics research and 14 times as much on military research as the EU. The Agenda encourages a healthy mix of cooperation and competition with the USA, on the basis of excellence and free trade.

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CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001     

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