Tuesday, 12 November 2002, was D-day for the
Commission-sponsored Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe
(ACARE) – time to formally unveil its first year’s work in
a comprehensive Strategic Research Agenda. Time too to address the challenges
facing aviation in the wake of last Summer’s summit on sustainable
growth, including ever-increasing air traffic, with its associated increase
in noise, emissions, congestion, and delays as well as heightened security
concerns in the aftermath of September 11.
Over 500 delegates from the aerospace sector were
on hand at the FP6 launch conference
to witness ACARE Chairman Walter Kröll formally hand over the Strategic
Research Agenda (SRA) for aeronautics. The report, the culmination of
a year’s work by several pan-European working teams coordinated
sets the scene for future research in Europe’s aeronautics sector.
It also reinforces the Commission’s commitment to Aeronautics and
Space as one of the seven thematic research priority areas under FP6,
while achieving two top-level objectives identified in the ‘Vision
2020 Report’, namely to meet society’s needs and to achieve
global leadership for Europe in the sector.
||Wheels in motion
Philippe Busquin set the wheels in motion for this momentous occasion
two years ago when he invited a Group of Personalities to set out
an ambitious vision for the future of aeronautics over the medium-
to long-term. Their findings summarised in the report ‘European
Aeronautics – a Vision for 2020’ were published
mid-2001. A key recommendation in the report – reinforced
in the ‘STAR
21’ report – was to create an advisory council to
oversee future measures to achieve this grand vision, the results
of which are now outlined in ACARE’s SRA. This, it is hoped,
will fly home the importance of creating a coherent market and policy
framework for a vibrant European aerospace industry.
Meanwhile, at the FP6 handover ceremony, Commissioner
Busquin praised the SRA as a milestone in the establishment of the
European Research Area. “This event has political significance
as the first example of collaboration between government and industry
aimed at developing an agenda for the whole EU,” said Commissioner
Busquin. An agenda, he continued, “in which the activities
and the investment strategy are agreed by all stakeholders”.
The headline objectives
to be achieved through the implementation of ACARE’s SRA include,
among other things, 50% and 80% cuts in CO2 and NOx emissions; respectively,
a five-fold reduction in accidents; reduction of noise by 50%; and
increased punctuality across the board, meaning 99% of all flights
should arrive and depart within 15 minutes of the scheduled time.
The SRA also puts forward a plethora of research solutions and technologies
to meet the ambitions of the ‘Vision 2020’ report. But
it adds a caveat to the attainment of these goals: “The objectives
are not achievable without important breakthroughs both in technology
and in concepts of operation.”
The mechanisms identified by ACARE as crucial
to meeting the EU’s vision for the aerospace industry include:
an adequate research infrastructure; a competitive supply chain;
certification and qualification processes; an educational system;
and trans-European synergy.
||Meeting the challenges
The new SRA lays
the foundation for meeting ambitious but achievable objectives.
With a budget of €1.075 billion allocated to the ‘Aeronautics
and Space’ thematic priority, out of a total €13.345
billion for ‘Focusing and Integrating Community Research’
in FP6, the industry has a great opportunity in the coming years
to solidify its leading position in many areas and to reassert itself
in new ones.
Mr Kröll, President of the Helmholtz Association
of National Research Centres, stressed that having all of the main
industry players involved in setting the targets for improving the
industry was critical. The aim is to have fewer accidents, cut noise
level, reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emission, he told the FP6
conference last week. But he cautioned that, to achieve this, it
will take an equal commitment from governments, agencies, operators,
and control authorities in all Member States. According to the SRA,
these challenges may be ambitious but they are achievable if the
Agenda is adopted and its findings deployed in the form of practical
products and services.