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Conference Success

Aerodays 2001 : a smashing success

By any standard, the Fourth Community Aeronautics Days in Hamburg on 29-31 January 2001 was an unmitigated success. Originally intended to attract around 500 participants, the final total was twice that number. The highlight of the event was the unveiling by European Commissioner Philippe Busquin of a vision for European aeronautics in the year 2020, developed at his request by a high-level group of industry and research leaders known as the Group of Personalities. Their report addresses not only industrial competitiveness but also issues of public concern such as safety, the environment, noise and air traffic management, setting ambitious goals for Europe in these areas.

In his opening speech, Commissioner Busquin focused on the coming changes in the aeronautics industry. "The days of 'higher, farther, faster' have reached their limit," he said. "Today, the key words are 'more affordable, safer, cleaner and quieter', and Europe has got to be able to deliver a high-performance air transport system which at the same time can deliver on the modern demands and expectations of its citizens."

A bevy of aerospace power players

Joining Mr Busquin in the opening ceremony and plenary session were luminaries Thomas Östros, Chairman of Sweden's Research Council and Minister of Education and Science, Werner Müller, Germany's Minister of Economics and Technology, Rainer Hertrich, CEO of EADS and President of AECMA (European Association of Aerospace Industries), Thomas Mirow, State Minister for Economic Affairs of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, and Members of the Group of Personalities Sir Richard Evans, CEO of BAE Systems and Jean-Luc Lagardère, President of Groupe Lagardère.

Together they dazzled a full house with future visions - and a warning: what has worked for us in the past is not going to work for us in the future. Aeronautics has turned the corner and Europe can either be at the forefront or get left behind.

"The vision elaborated by the Group was based on a number of suppositions," said the Commissioner. "For one, air traffic has been increasing and will continue to increase at a rate of about 5% per year. That means a tripling of traffic over the next 20 years!" Only a highly energetic and well co-ordinated research and development effort will allow us or anyone else to stay above water under that kind of pressure.

Critical role for the European Research Area

Seen in this light, the pertinence of the European Research Area (ERA) and its structuring role for aeronautics research becomes clear. In an interview Mr Busquin stated: "The ERA is more than just the co-operative research funded under the EC Framework Programmes. It is state and local authorities, along with industrial and research players, all making a concerted effort to pool their resources and to eliminate repetition and waste. We're talking about an improved research effort in Europe, from the bottom up."

Lively exchange

Throughout the three-day event, participants, including researchers, engineers, managers, government officials and journalists from around the world discussed industrial and political views, as well as a wide array of research results and technological achievements, especially under the 'New Perspectives in Aeronautics' key action of the Union's Fifth Framework Programme.

While parallel sessions ranged in topic from aircraft operations and safety to air traffic control and environmental impact, the exhibition hall featured posters and exhibits from leading-edge researchers, as well as information stands from such groups as AECMA, EREA (Association of European Research Establishments in Aeronautics), SME-Forum and the AeroSME initiative, ETW (European Transonic Windtunnel) and the European Commission's Research Directorate-General.

An up-close look: aeronautics in action

The city of Hamburg and its surroundings represent the second largest civil industrial aeronautics centre in Europe and participants in the Aerodays conference were treated to a variety of excursions highlighting the activities of leading aeronautics and air transport companies in the Hamburg region, including EADS Airbus, Lufthansa Technik and Hamburg Airport.

Day two of the conference saw Herbert Allgeier, former Director General of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre and one of the initiators of Community aeronautics research, Elizabeth Duthie, CAEP member from Great Britain's Department of Environment and Transport of the Regions, Yves Morier from JAA (Joint Aviation Authorities), and Alexander Radwan, Member of the European Parliament discussing the demands of society with respect to aeronautics in the second plenary session. Issues including emissions reduction, air safety and job creation were addressed in an important debate which highlighted problems of global regulatory harmonisation.

Finally, in a closing session chaired by the Commission's Jack Metthey and based loosely around the question of competitiveness in a global market, Fausto Cereti, Alitalia Chairman, Jürgen Thomas, Member of the Airbus Executive Committee and father of the new Airbus A380 super giant, and Group of Personality members Walter Kröll, Chairman of DLR, and Arne Wittlöv, Chairman of Volvo Aero and the Swedish Foresight Committee inspired and entertained the audience with their wide-ranging views.

All in all, Aerodays 2001 was a resounding success with important insights and technological advances for even the most demanding. Participants will now be looking forward eagerly to the next Aerodays conference, which, as Jack Metthey joked, could perhaps take place onboard an Airbus A380.


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