research agenda must be at the service of Vision 2020 and the
goals it identifies. Broadly, the air travel requirements of "More
Affordable, Safer, Cleaner and Quieter" will dictate the
main priorities, but customer demands for more reliable services
must also be satisfied.
is not the purpose of this exercise to define a detailed research
agenda. This will be an evolutionary process which should, among
other things, lead to a greater concentration on large programmes
in a few key areas, capable of maintaining transparency, integration
of the supply chain and access for small companies.
goals for the air transport system point to many areas that need
to be addressed. The management of aircraft movements on the ground
and in the air is a natural family of similar technologies, whilst
the aircraft itself and its many complex systems is another.
technical barriers need to be tackled in a comprehensive and coordinated
manner if substantial improvements are to be made to the Air Transport
the impact of weather
We want to continue to reduce the weather as a disrupting factor
for aircraft operations and a source of discomfort and danger
during flight. We cannot control it but we need to learn to live
with the elements and steadily eliminate the service disruption
that they may cause.
Integrated air traffic management
Air traffic management is a major research challenge that is already
being confronted at a European level. The lack of integration
of Europe's air traffic control systems places additional burdens
on the European air travel system as well as on the environment.
We need new operational concepts and systems that permit aircraft
to operate in all weather conditions, to fly closer together at
lower risk so as to allow optimal and efficient allocation of
the airspace between its civil and military users, while limiting
as far as possible the construction of new airports and runways.
We also need to pocket the fuel savings that are possible by permitting
aircraft to fly the optimum route length with no speed restrictions
and by putting an end to stacking aircraft in holding patterns
and making them wait a long time for a take-off slot. Among other
things, this means designing aircraft systems that integrate with
airlines, airports and air traffic management operations and procedures
so as to greatly improve the efficiency of airspace management.
new approach to airport management
Imaginative management systems addressing both air and land side
operational issues are badly needed for airports. Despite the
technologies of automated ticketing, passengers and their baggage
are still handled in the same way as 40 years ago. "Just
in Time", for example, is well established for the manufacturing
industry. How can these principles be applied to customers of
airports? Innovative solutions are also needed that integrate
the air transport system with other transport modes.
Aircraft of Tomorrow
thousands of systems work together within a modern aircraft: the
airframe itself, the engines, the navigation systems on the flight
deck are a few of the "high tech" ones, but seat, galley
and many other technologies play their part.
cost-conscious travel with choice, comfort and convenience
In an air transport system that must be more closely matched to
the needs of customers and citizens, the cost and efficiency of
the aircraft as well as its design and manufacturing must be the
most competitive in the world. Aircraft may be acquiring new shapes
and sizes by 2020 to improve the technical efficiency of the air
transport system and to raise their safety and environmental performance.
Flying wings could offer more efficient and quieter solutions,
airships may finally establish themselves as a cheap alternative
for carrying freight, and convenience flying could be a reality
with tilting wings that allow vertical take-off and landings.
The super-liners able to carry 1200 or more passengers may need
new airport systems to handle them, folding wings to avoid occupying
too much airport space, and entrances and exits of a size once
found only on passenger ships.
and environmental gains
In the meantime, today's aircraft will continue to be improved
by technology advances. Second-generation composite materials
and use of hybrid laminar flow over the entire aircraft could
make vast contributions to reducing aircraft weight and air drag,
thereby reducing fuel consumption. Big strides in safety will
be possible through human factors, research and intelligent monitoring
and control systems that will anticipate problems and take preventative
actions even before the pilot is aware anything is going wrong.
The crew's confidence that it is making the best possible decisions
will be assured by electronic systems.
is a relentless demand for every industry to reduce emissions
and burn less fuel and these are goals the aeronautical industry
will continually strive for. Cleaner and alternative fuels - hydrogen,
for example, if its production costs can be lowered - may be able
to help in reducing harmful emissions. More efficient engines
are achievable that will not only burn less fuel but will also
reduce damaging emissions to a fraction of their current levels.
But to bring them within reach, temperatures and pressures in
the heart of the engine need to be raised still further and ways
to achieve peak efficiency throughout the whole flight are needed.
the most of advanced electronics
digital revolution is enabling huge strides to be made in aircraft
design, production, manufacturing, maintenance and operating and
traffic management. There will be vital impacts on flight systems,
where much greater integration will bring top line operation,
minimal fuel consumption and dramatic improvements in safety standards.
Integrated electronic systems will greatly improve reliability,
remove causes of unscheduled maintenance and allow the opening
of "the office and home in the sky".
research agenda must be fleshed out in enough detail to allow
rational choices to be made about the radical leap in capability
that is required. Once endorsed at the
highest levels, it can then act as a beacon for the aeronautics
industry across the EU. That is the theme of our next section,
The Way Forward.