Philippe Busquin one of the Research
Directorate General's primary missions is to support the Union's policies
in other fields such as health, transport and environment. Nowhere is
this approach more evident than in aeronautics where, under the 5th Framework
Programme for RTD, a variety of projects have been undertaken in support
of EU policies.
Recent emphasis on the European
Research Area (ERA) has highlighted the importance of an integrated
and co-ordinated Europe-wide research network. Clearly, Europe has suffered
from the lack of co-operation among its scientific and research communities,
but there are some notable exceptions. Co-operative research in the area
of aeronautics, for example, has already helped to establish Europe as
the only serious competitor of the United States in that field.
Promoting cross-border RTD has become a priority for
the EU as it comes to grips with the new knowledge-based economy of the
future. It goes without saying that increased commercial competitiveness
is a prime motivating factor for any such work, but aside from the obvious
economic gains for European businesses, what is European research for?
Specifically, we would like to ask why aeronautics research is important
under the Growth Programme. What larger European policy objectives does
In 1992, even before
the advent of the single market, the European Commission approved
Paper setting out a new Common Transport Policy. It saw future
transport as a single system in which the various modes would complement
each other. This vision of 'intermodality' presupposes safe and
efficient interfaces between the different modes ensuring optimum
mobility and a more balanced distribution of traffic.
The Common Transport Policy underlies much of
the work now being pursued in all of the transport sectors: the
establishment of Trans-European Networks, fair pricing in transport,
environmental protection, safety, social safeguards and the strengthening
of the common market and its external dimension.
Thus, with EU traffic increasing at a rate of
about 3.5% a year since 1980 and with freight transport alone set
to double over the next 15 to 20 years, the EU is determined to
encourage and invest in transport RTD. The Commission's action programme
for 1995 to 2000 included a number of initiatives and the picture
since its adoption has been one of significant and ongoing progress.
Framework Programme for RTD (1994-1998) included a specific
programme of transport research with funding for 300 or so RTD projects.
Framework Programme for RTD (1998-2002) concentrates on a smaller
number of programmes, one of which is the Competitive and Sustainable
Growth programme with a specific 'key action' in 'sustainable mobility
and intermodality' and another in 'new perspectives in aeronautics'.
and transport policy
Of all the forms
of transport, aviation has shown by far the most striking growth
over recent decades. Traffic through the airports of the Fifteen
has risen fivefold since 1970, and since 1980, traffic has risen
at an average rate of 7.4% a year.
On the other hand, the boom in air transport has led to airport
overcrowding and overloaded air traffic control systems. Complaints
of major inefficiencies and increasing delays mount daily as Europe's
airport infrastructure comes closer to the limits of its capacity.
With this in mind, a number of research projects have focused
on improvements in aviation infrastructure. For example, the AFAS
projects are paving the way for the development of more autonomous
aircraft for the future Air Traffic Management (ATM) system. The
two consortia are seeking to elaborate a new operational ATM scenario
which will ultimately lead to improvements in air traffic as a whole.
As long ago as 1971 the air transport authorities of a number of
European countries decided to co-operate increasingly in certain
areas of air safety. This led to the setting up of the Joint Aviation
Authorities (JAA) in 1989, and to the signing of the 1990 Cyprus
arrangements aimed at drawing up common technical standards and
procedures. In a 1991 regulation the Community decided to absorb
these into Community law.
In 1996, the Commission proposed the setting
up of a European Agency responsible for civil aviation safety. This
new body was to guarantee a high level of safety in Europe's skies
and to promote European standards worldwide. Today, barely one tenth
of all air accidents occur in Europe, even though the region generates
one third of the world's traffic.
In light of the prioritisation of air transport
safety, a number of research projects have been undertaken. For
example, the FIREDETEX
project is developing new fire/smoke detection and fire extinguishing
system, while the CAST
project is aimed at developing a set of tools and methods for the
design of crashworthy helicopters. Another recently completed project,
addressed the problem of meeting more stringent fire safety regulations
with respect to interior fabrics in private and executive aircraft.
Damage to the environment
has been growing steadily worse in recent decades. Every year some
two billion tonnes of waste are produced in the Member States, while
CO2 emissions from our homes and vehicles are also increasing.
The quality of life for people in Europe, especially in urban areas,
has declined considerably with the increase in pollution and noise.
Environmental protection is therefore one of the major challenges
now facing Europe.
Environmental action by the Community began
in 1972 with four successive action programmes. During this period,
the Community adopted some 200 pieces of legislation, chiefly concerned
with limiting pollution. Community action developed over the years
until the Treaty on European Union conferred on it the status of
policy. The Treaty
of Amsterdam has now enshrined the principle of sustainable
development as one of the Community's primary aims.
To achieve this, the Fifth
EC Environmental Action Programme 'Towards Sustainability' established
the principles of a European strategy of voluntary action for the
period 1992-2000 and marked the beginning of a 'horizontal' Community
approach which would take account of all the causes of pollution,
including industry, energy production and transport. This across-the-board
approach was confirmed by the Commission in the wake of its 1998
Communication on integrating the environment into European policies
and by the 1998 European Council in Vienna.
Transport and the environment
The areas of transport and environment are profoundly interlinked.
In the European Union the proportion of total CO2 emissions
generated by transport rose from 19% in 1985 to 26% in 1995, and
if current trends and policies continue, CO2 emissions
will go on rising significantly, making it very hard to meet the
targets set at the 1997 Kyoto summit. Air traffic currently produces
only 12% of transport-related CO2 emissions, but the
level increased by 57% from 1985 to 1995 while the level generated
by road traffic rose by only 36%.
and the environment
Against the backdrop
of increasing environmental concerns, and considering the projected
growth in air traffic, much research has focussed on environment-related
No other effect of air transport operations is felt as directly
as aircraft noise, a major cause of concern around European airports.
On 17 January 2001 in Montreal, the Committee on Aviation Environmental
Protection (CAEP) of the International
Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) developed a comprehensive
series of recommendations to reduce the environmental impact of
aircraft noise, endorsing a balanced approach to noise mitigation.
In April 2001, the Commission launched a major
new project led by SNECMA
called SILENCE(R), part of
a co-ordinated strategic approach addressing air traffic noise issues.
A consortium of 51 companies will collaborate for four years to
validate new technologies for reducing aircraft noise by up to 6
decibels as of 2008. Other work being carried out in this area includes
project led by Rolls
Royce. Here, partners are developing a new method for designing
low-noise turbomachinery components using existing Computational
Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software.
While noise affects a relatively small number of people, aircraft
emissions can affect us all. In a recent report, the UN's Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stressed the growing contribution
of aviation emissions to global warming. While the impact is still
relatively small, said the panel, the demand for air transport is
growing rapidly and threatens to outpace the rate at which the application
of new technologies can deliver improvements.
With this is mind, several research projects have focussed on improving
fuel efficiency and reducing emissions. For example, the EEFAE
project has been launched to develop more environmentally friendly
aero-engines, while PARTEMIS,
is concerned with both aerosol particles directly emitted by aircraft
engines and with the new particulate materials formed within the
Finally, the NEPAIR
project is looking into new methodologies for controlling emissions
over all the flight phases of aircraft operation.
||Small and medium-sized
The European economy
is undergoing a fundamental shift stemming from globalisation and
the growth of the new knowledge-based economy. The Lisbon European
Council set a new strategic goal for the European Union, to become
the world's most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy.
This goal can only be achieved by making Europe more entrepreneurial
The importance of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises
(SMEs) in stimulating new employment and innovation is well-established,
and the EU has a long-standing history of supporting and promoting
them. Most recently, the EU
Charter for small companies was approved by EU leaders at the
Feira summit in June 2000, demonstrating the Union's ongoing commitment
In keeping with this, a number of research projects
have been undertaken to promoting SMEs in the aeronautics sector.
project, for example, is intended to support SMEs in preparing collaborative
project proposals while the AeroSME
project, being co-ordinated by the European
Association of Aerospace Industries (AECMA), aims to stimulate
SME participation in 5th Framework projects.
||The Group of Personalities
In October 2000,
research Commissioner Busquin set up the Group of Personalities
charged with producing, in the context of the implementation of
the European Research Area, a vision for aeronautics in the year
2020. The group was chaired by Mr Busquin and comprised 14 eminent
figures from the aeronautics industry The Group presented its report,
Aeronautics: A Vision for 2020", on 29 January 2001 at
Days conference in Hamburg, setting out a wide-ranging and inclusive
common vision for European aviation with ambitious targets for research
and development and tackling issues such as safety, the environment
and sustainable competitiveness and innovation.
The Vision 2020 report recommended, among other
things, the creation of an Advisory
Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) . The Council
began its work on 19 June 2001 at the 44th
Paris Air Show at Le Bourget. Its primary mission is to establish
and carry forward a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA), which will
serve as a guide in the planning of research programmes, particularly
national and EU programmes.
EU research on New
Perspectives in Aeronautics supports a number of EU policies.
· AFAS - aircraft
in the future air traffic management system;
· MA-AFAS - more autonomous aircraft
in the future air traffic management system;
· FIREDETEX - new fire/smoke detection
and fire extinguishing system;
· CAST - designing crashworthy helicopters;
· SILENCE(R) - testing novel concepts
for low-noise aero-engines;
· TURBONOISECFD - developing low-noise
turbomachinery design software;
· PARTEMIS - reducing aircraft aerosol
· NEPAIR - reducing emissions over all
flight phases of aircraft operation;
· COLSME-ATR - supporting aeronautics
SMEs in preparing project proposals;
· AeroSME - providing information and
support for aeronautics SMEs;
· G4ST-1999-00018 - improving fire safety
onboard private and executive aircraft.