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Lighter, quieter and smarter – designing tomorrow's planes - 05/02/2008

Aeroplane vapour trail in a clear blue sky

EU's new 'Clean Sky' initiative to fund research by public and private bodies into clean aviation technology.

The aviation sector is currently flying through a lot of turbulence. Not only does its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions - currently 3% - look set to rise with the constant growth in air traffic worldwide, but air transport is also one of the main sources of noise pollution. To cap it all, the European aeronautics industry is facing ever‑fiercer competition from across the globe.

To meet these daunting challenges, the EU has decided to launch a public‑private partnership of unprecedented scope, harnessing know‑how from key players in the aeronautics industry and research across Europe.

The Clean Sky project, launched today, involves 86 organisations from 16 countries: 54 private companies, 15 research centres and 17 universities.

These modern partnerships are the fruit of a strand of the EU's R&D funding programme that promotes collaborative research ventures. With a budget of €1.6bn (€800m provided by the R&D programme), the initiative should accelerate the development of novel technologies and lead to a new generation of green planes.

Clean Sky will look at six technical areas, from engines to overall aircraft design. A technology evaluator will analyse the results, from the experimental phase to the in‑flight demonstrations. 

By 2020, Clean Sky hopes to cut emissions of carbon dioxide by 50%, nitrogen oxide by 80% and noise pollution by 50%, as well as setting up an eco‑friendly life cycle for products – design, manufacture, maintenance and scrapping / recycling.

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