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Homepage Competitive and Sustainable Growth - Making the European Research Area a Reality
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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research themes > Aeronautics
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The Competitive and Sustainable Growth (GROWTH) Programme ran from 1998 to 2002 under the Fifth Framework Programme(FP5). Funding for industrial research is now covered by the thematic priorities of the Sixth Framework Programme(FP6) from 2002 to 2006, designed to support the creation of a European Research Area:

The following text was first published in March 2000.

Graphic element New perspectives in aeronautics

Global air traffic is forecast to triple between 2000 and 2015 and, if this demand is to be met, more than 5,000 new aircraft will have to be built each year. Europe's aeronautics industry therefore faces a massive challenge to satisfy demand for economic, safe and environmentally friendly air travel.

This part of the Growth Programme (1998-2002) aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the European aeronautic industry, including SMEs, while ensuring sustainable growth of air transportation.

  Main objectives

Four priorities have been set for European aeronautics research over the next eight to ten years:

1. Cut procurement costs through reductions in aircraft production costs by 35% and development time by 15 to 20%. This is being achieved by:

- Advanced design systems and tools
- Development of intelligent and flexible manufacturing methodologies and exploitation of advanced materials
- Improvements in quality control at all stages of the supply chain.

2. Improve efficiency and performance, with reduction in fuel consumption by 20% and general improvement in reliability and direct operating costs. Work includes:

- Reducing aerodynamic drag at all stages of flight, from take off to landing
- Cutting weight by 20% without increasing manufacturing cost
or shortening structural life
- Improving fuel use and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases
- Decreasing the power requirements and weight of on-board systems without affecting safety, cost or reliability.

3. Reduce noise and climate impacts as well as improve passenger environment, with reductions in emissions of NOx by 80% and CO2 by 20% and decrease of external and cabin noise by 10dB each.

4. Improve operational capability and safety, through reductions in aircraft maintenance costs by 25% and decrease in accident rates by at least the same factor as the growth in traffic.

Factors include:

- Improving air traffic management to increasing airspace and airport capacity
- Development of smart maintenance systems, improved non-destructive analysis and methodologies for surveying ageing aircraft
- Improving understanding of the human-machine interfaces and crew performance
- Ameliorating airframe behaviour to improve survivability.


  Technology platforms

Technology integration and validation activities are focusing on nine technology platforms:

Low-cost, low-weight primary structures
Involving cost-efficient combinations of materials and structural concepts, particularly for the wings and fuselages of commercial aircraft

Efficient and environmentally friendly aero-engines
Covering both selection of best available component technologies for existing designs and developing advanced designs to reduce NOx and CO2 emissions

Novel rotary-wing aircraft configurations
Developing high speed and cost-effective VTOL (vertical take off and landing) concepts to provide a hovering capability in aircraft similar to helicopters

More autonomous aircraft in the air traffic management systems
Transforming research results into operational air traffic management procedures, covering both air and ground segments

Power-optimised aircraft
Involves improved aircraft system integration and optimising overall energy use of non-propulsive equipment rather than individual elements

Low external noise aircraft
Overcoming a major barrier to air traffic growth by making aircraft more acceptable by reducing noise from all sources - including engines, nacelle, airframe and installation

Low noise aircraft cabins
Reducing noise and increasing passenger comfort as planes continue to grow and flights get longer

Novel fixed-wing aircraft configurations
Developing new configurations based on advances in aerodynamics, structures and flight controls to improve operational efficiency for larger capacity aircraft

Integrated and modular aircraft electronic systems
Obtaining cost-effective avionics architectures based on increased modularity and integration - this requires new standards, test environments and concept validation.

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