time has come!
European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin, the opening session
of the Aeronautics Days 2001 conference was the occasion to explain
just why he formed the Group of Personalities and charged it with
producing the 'Vision for 2020' report.
aerospace is facing major economic, industrial and technological
challenges at the start of the 21st century," he said. "While
we can all point to major European success stories like Airbus,
the situation is bound to change as time goes on. Two points are
key here. First, the days of 'higher, farther, faster' have reached
their limit. Today, the key words are 'more affordable, safer, cleaner
and quieter', and Europe has got to be able to deliver on the modern
demands and expectations of its citizens. Second, European aerospace
must work to consolidate its position on the world market. With
new competitors like Canada and Brazil coming on line and with the
United States focussing its substantial resources on strengthening
its own position, we must now pull together like never before."
Busquin went on to discuss the importance of taking a long-term
view. "It was to this end that I set up the Group," he
said. "One of the Group's strengths is that it brings together
people from various walks of life within the air transport system,
representing all of its components, including industrialists and
manufacturers, airports, airlines, air traffic controllers and researchers."
Report of the Group of Personalities, entitled European aeronautics:
a vision for 2020 - Meeting society's needs and winning global leadership,
also highlights the relevance of the European Research Area. "We
are speaking here," said Mr Busquin, "about better organising
research in Europe, and all of the suggestions we have heard as
far as setting up the European Research Area can be applied in the
aerospace industry. In particular," he continued, "the
ERA calls for a reduction in duplication, a balance of national
and Community programmes, optimising research infrastructures, increased
networking, increased mobility among researchers and the placing
of a premium on excellence".
conclusion, the Commissioner stated, "The report of the Group
of Personalities should be a stepping stone into the future for
European aerospace. It is now time for public and private decision-makers
to take the action and to set aside the resources called for in
the report. The time has come!"
for Europe to measure up
of BAE Systems, member of the Supervisory Board of Airbus Industrie
and member of the Group of Personalities, Sir Richard Evans is a
man with a head for business. Stressing the importance of understanding
where one stands before one can say where he is going, Sir Richard
pointed to some rather stark statistics. "The United States
is the benchmark against which Europe must measure herself,"
he stated, "and unfortunately, we are lagging behind, both
in terms of overall spending and, notably, in the proportion of
spending which comes from the government."
the EU, Evans pointed out, 55% of aerospace R&D is funded by
industry, compared to only 35% in the US. In real terms, the US
government is spending three to four times what European governments
do, and with defence-related R&D on the decline, government
funds become all the more crucial. The fundamental message is clear:
Europe has to act and to act now in a concerted way to come up with
more government investment.
a departure from his published speech, Evans warned that while European
aerospace industry is facing stiff competition from abroad, European
governments themselves are also in competition with other governments.
"We now stand at a crossroads," he said. "Our governments
must do what it takes to retain shareholders. If they don't, with
other countries providing investment and attractive tax rates, the
European aerospace industry could very well leave Europe altogether."
have led the way before," he said. "Just look at Airbus,
the Eurofighter, the Concorde. But our work from here on is no longer
about individual projects or programmes. It is about a new and broader
agenda for the year 2020, including enhanced collaboration across
national boundaries and increasing public support for the good of
his presentation at the Aeronautics Days 2001 closing plenary session,
DLR Chairman and member of the Group of Personalities, Walter Kröll,
addressed societal issues vis à vis aviation. "When
we talk about meeting society's needs," he said, "we have
to give customers and citizens alike, flying or not flying, the
same consideration. This means working to do things like improving
safety or making it easier and cheaper to fly while at the same
time striving to protect air quality and reducing noise for people
living or working near airports."
maximising our research potential, we can give ourselves the kind
of first class air transport system we know we're capable of,"
said Kröll, "and we can claim a global leadership role
for European aeronautics. Our goals must be visionary, but realistic.
We see great things in the year 2020. We expect affordability, safer,
cleaner, quieter airplanes, better service with just-in-time check-in
and departure, and an efficient ATM (Air Traffic Management) system."
this is not just an exercise in predicting the future," Kröll
said. "The point is to go out now and make this future vision
a reality. What we can say for sure is that Europe cannot go on
as it has done in the past. It's not going to work like that any
more. We need to stop competing amongst ourselves and turn to co-operation.
We also need more public funding. The citizens of Europe need to
understand that it is in their best interest to support a lot of
this research. We need our educational programmes to work to stimulate
the interest of our children in science and technology, and we need
to put our best and brightest students together in European units,
to work together and to get to know each other. In short, we need
a European strategic research agenda."
the eyes of the Commission now firmly fixed on aeronautics as a
central player in the European Research Area, the Group's recommendations
are all the more likely to be heeded. With a firm commitment of
public support and increasing awareness and concern about the future
of air transport, Europe should be set to go on flying high well
into the 21st century.
of Personalities' 2020 vision is just in time
of Groupe Lagardère and eminent member of the Group of Personalities,
Jean Luc Lagardère made an impressive case for the Group's
conclusions at the Aeronautics Days 2001opening plenary session.
"This report is just in time," he said to a packed house.
" A vision for the year 2020 is just what we need right now.
The coming years will see major changes and what we all have to
realise is that Europe can become a world reference in the field
of aerospace and aeronautics technologies. But we simply are not
on a level playing field with our competitors in the United States,
where public financing is much higher."
aeronautics sector may indeed be facing some stark challenges. With
air traffic expected to double over the next 20 years, the Group
of Personalities' report sets ambitious new targets, including a
five-fold reduction in accidents, a halving of perceived aircraft
noise, a halving of fuel consumption, an 80% reduction in nitrogen
oxide emissions and an air traffic system capable of handling 16
million flights per year.
research must be co-ordinated and directed if we are to reach our
targets," said Lagardère. "And we need the strong
support of our governments and our citizens. We are calling for
an Advisory Council to be set up to develop ways to foster further
co-operation among Member States." The Advisory Council will
be in operation as of mid 2001 and will apply those sections of
the Treaty which allow for flexibility in the setting of rules for
Member States in common action.
2020 vision report sets high standards," said Lagardère,
"but let it also stand as a warning. Co-operation is a necessity
now, not a luxury. We are no longer in a position to act alone."
role for Germany in European aeronautics
his speech at the Aeronautics Days 2001 opening ceremony, Dr Werner
Müller, Germany's Minister of Economics and Technology, welcomed
participants to Hamburg on behalf of the German government.
deciding to hold this conference here, the Commission has given
Germany an important endorsement," he said. "This is an
acknowledgement of the part we have played in the Europeanising
of the aerospace industry. Hamburg, along with Seattle in the United
States and Toulouse in France, is now one of the three largest aerospace
centres in the world."
citing important German contributions to aeronautics, including
the development of composite materials and carbon-fibre technologies,
he underlined the role of the German government in supporting high-level
is still important to us in Europe to be given a competitive springboard
for such an innovative branch of industry, with its high-level jobs
and its high value-added products," he said. "In particular,
Europe must respond to the vigorous support being provided by the
United States government for its own industry. This does not mean
getting into a race to subsidise, setting up barriers or making
shady deals. Rather, we must embrace the principles of competition,
performance and innovation."
to European strengths as illustrated by Airbus and Ariane successes,
Müller concluded by urging further co-ordination between national
and European authorities. "Mr Busquin has prepared the ground
well with his group of Personalities," he said. "Now,
EU support must be given a firm place, with reliable continuity,
within the aerospace research network."
and the 'three E's'
his speech at the Aeronautics Days 2001 opening ceremony, Thomas
Östros, Swedish Minister for Education and Science, stressed
the importance of balance and excellence in European aeronautics
the Swedish Presidency, Östros described his country's focus
on the 'three E's' - Enlargement, Employment and Environment. "Co-operative
research plays an important role in all of these areas," he
said, "becoming increasingly important for economic growth
and employment and for the renewal of society along ecologically
sustainable lines, and by being open to researchers from candidate
and non-member countries, our research and education programmes
make an important contribution to the enlargement process."
area of European co-operation which has become very important in
recent decades is aeronautics," he said, citing the Airbus
consortium as a major success in the civil aircraft sector. "A
similar trend towards cross-border collaboration is evident in the
area of research and technological development. Over the course
of successive research framework programmes, aeronautics has grown
in relative importance and now holds a strong position with its
own 'key action' under the thematic programme 'Competitive and Sustainable
alluding to the recent communication on the European Research Area,
Östros said, "One of the main challenges will be to strike
the correct balance between, on the one hand, the concentration
of resources and, on the other, a healthy competition between the
Member States and other institutions. Scientific excellence and
the quality of research performed should be the most important criteria
when deciding how to invest in research, with European, national
and industrial programmes each playing their part."