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5. The Challenges for Research & Technology










The European aeronautics industry is knowledge-based. It faces three key high-level challenges:

Meeting the needs of an advanced society
Creating competitive products for a global market
Sustaining the flow of key technology


5.1 Meeting the Needs of an Advanced Society

If Europe is to service the needs of business for air passenger travel, it must be able to look forward to a future in which rapid growth - doubling in 15 years, almost trebling by 2020 - is accompanied by even higher safety, lower costs and greater convenience. Our long term aims must be to cope with vastly increased traffic whilst achieving the goals of:

  • Sustained safety standards and lower accident rates.
  • Comfortable, convenient and on-time passenger mobility.
  • Progressive reductions in real cost to passengers.

The challenge is to improve passenger and business appeal for air transport in Europe whilst absorbing a sustained and rapid growth in traffic.

The Wider Community
Most people are not frequent air travellers. All of us share the aspiration that air transport growth should be safe and not create environmental damage and nuisance.

Any strategy must embrace the goals of safer, quieter aircraft that produce fewer emissions.



The impact of noise on communities around airports has been much reduced as a result of new technology applications. The example of Heathrow is typical - despite an 80% increase in the number of flights since 1974 the number of people disturbed by noise has dropped by 80%.
But as traffic continues to increase strongly and even better noise performance is demanded, including reductions in airframe noise, it will be a major challenge to meet the aspirations of these communities.


Whilst noise affects a relatively small number of people aircraft emissions can affect us all. Early jet airliners were both noisy and dirty, leaving trails of smoky fuel in their wake. Their successors today are much improved, both quieter and cleaner. Today the impact of aircraft emissions is small: less than 3.5% of all man-made global CO2 emission is accountable to aeronautics. However, the demand for air transport is growing strongly and threatens to outpace the rate at which the application of new technology can deliver improvements. It represents a major technical challenge over the long term.



New generations of aircraft are demonstrably and significantly safer than older generations. However, with the current growth of air transportation, the number of accidents risks to increase substantially. This represents a major challenge for research and aviation operations in order to achieve a quantum leap forward in safety.

  • The European Aeronautics Industry directly employs more than 420,000 people (1998).
  • 80,000 firms supply the aeronautics industry in Europe.
  • Europe had a trade balance surplus of more than 9 billion euro from aerospace products.
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