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European Aeronautics : A vision for 2020 - Contents
European Aeronautics : A Vision for 2020


The Way Forward:
Creating Partnership for Research and Innovation


Keys to Success

Describing the vision is the easy part of our task. The real challenge lies in achieving it by changing mentalities and investment priorities for research and making the best use of total outlays in Europe. We are making recommendations for an evolutionary process requiring a long-term commitment by all stakeholders - the aeronautics industry, airlines, airports, air traffic control service providers, governments and regulators, research institutes and academia - to work in closer partnership and on the basis of consensus. In working together they must keep firmly in mind some important keys to the successful achievement of our vision.

They include:


  Maintaining a continuous consensus among key aeronautics stakeholders based on common interests and a commitment to implement its priorities.
  Encouraging better co-ordination and distribution between research funded at the EU level and programmes sponsored by national governments and individual enterprises.
  Creating new synergies between EU, national and regional research programmes and minimising unnecessary duplication of research, while recognising that a degree of competition between companies and agencies is desirable and necessary.
  Optimising research facilities. This requires a long-term view of the infrastructure needed to sustain public and private networks of excellence within a framework of European collaboration.
  Fostering synergies between defence and civil sectors. The two sectors share many technology needs and Europe should promote synergies between them to make the same gains that other nations do.
  Giving education a high priority to ensure the long-term supply of first-class, well-trained and suitably qualified people.


Securing the keys

These keys to success need to be secured. But we doubt that they can be under present arrangements. European aeronautics is now a cross-border industry, but too much of its research strategy is shaped within national borders without clear reference, or indeed, knowledge of what is happening elsewhere within the Union. The result is fragmentation when we need a more coherent picture, greater awareness and critical mass.

These are serious weaknesses. Nevertheless, there is a real breadth and depth to existing relationships, collaborations and partnerships between industry stakeholders, the Member States and the European Institutions that, with shared vision, drive and commitment, could be transformed into something more systemic.

We are not questioning political prerogatives at the national and European levels neither are we calling for radical changes in the centres of decision-making as they impact aeronautics research, nor in the ways in which research is financed. We also recognise that there are limits to potential cross-border research cooperation: what may be possible in one sector does not necessarily apply to others.

However, there is a definite need to create the conditions for better decision-making and for more efficient and effective research by the Union, the Member States and the aeronautics stakeholders. We require:

  • a common strategic approach to the definition of priorities and long-term funding;
  • new partnerships to complement and build on the old;
  • a more efficient and effective sharing of tasks.


Strategic definition of priorities

We believe these objectives can be attained through mobilising Europe's formidable research capacities behind a much greater common effort without in any way prejudicing healthy competition within the industry.

The path to a sharper focus on strategic research lies in a regular and continuous dialogue between aeronautics stakeholders and the highest political levels in the Member States and the European Union. Among a range of issues, this dialogue will need to cover relations between civil and military aeronautics. But its primary products would be a Strategic Research Agenda, adopted every two years, and a work programme derived from it, together with a more coherent and coordinated approach to optimising research efforts by all stakeholders.

Coordination would not be imposed, but facilitated and, in effect, implied by the common adoption of priorities developed within a framework commanding broad support from all stakeholders.



In addition to purely national efforts by governments and companies, aeronautics research is already characterised by cross-border partnerships within Europe and across the Atlantic. None of these should feel threatened by the development of the Strategic Research Agenda, which is intended to present new opportunities for existing combinations as well as to stimulate the formation of additional ones.


Sharing of tasks

Greater inter-dependence and specialisation of function than currently exists is likely to emerge from common efforts that are better organised and structured. EU aeronautics research would stand on the following three pillars, the first two of which are already well-established:

  • National publicly-financed programmes;
  • The EU research actions;
  • New forms of cross-border cooperation and partnerships between national and EU programmes. Changes in national regulations that are currently obstacles to such partnerships, as well as an adaptation of the EU research instruments, might be required to allow for a better structure of the aeronautics research landscape in Europe.


















The Strategic Research Agenda (SRA)

This is the beacon to light the way towards our vision. In section 3.4 we have only managed to give a very broad description of some of the research areas that might feature in such an Agenda. Produced by representatives of all those with a stake in research, the SRA would be a timed and scoped statement of research priorities with recommendations for implementation. Biannual updating will steadily encourage convergence of the priorities of individual funding programmes in both the public and the private sectors and allow evaluation of global results.

Maximum benefit would be gained from the SRA through the co-operation and, where appropriate, inter-dependence, of the stakeholders in its implementation.



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