- one of the major centres of the Airbus industrial complex - was the
host of Aeronautics
Days 2001, from 29 to 31 January. This red-letter event was the occasion
to outline a new ambitious strategy within the European Research Area
and to chart the future of European aeronautics. The objective over the
next two decades is to equip the European Union with a global air transport
system able to meet the challenges of the projected growth in the world
market while strengthening the remarkable position currently enjoyed by
European aeronautics. We summarise the issues at stake in this priority
aviation is experiencing a golden age which shows no sign of slowing.
The continuous growth in world air transport - passengers and freight
- experienced since the 1960s is set to continue at a rate of at
least 5% a year over the next two decades. The latest Airbus forecasts
indicate that this will mean a demand for 7600 new aircraft every
decade - or a market estimated at 1300 billion euros by 2019. As
a vital sector in the European - and American - industrial dynamic,
aircraft manufacture must therefore continue to innovate if it is
to win these large markets.
among the players
technological race which will underlie the competition looks like
being intense and increasingly demanding. The traditional battle
between the commercial competitiveness of aircraft - their value
for money - is today more relevant than ever. But at the same time,
continuous market growth is bringing into play an unremitting stream
of new parameters for the future of European and global aviation.
manufacturers are thus perfectly aware of the major problem of the
impact of increased traffic on the global environment. There is
also a broad consensus that future improvements in aircraft performance
must go hand-in-hand with a major drive for innovation in the air
transport system as a whole. European research must meet the urgent
need for progress in air traffic management and control (ATM and
ATC), airport infrastructures, airline information systems, etc.
This new global approach covering the whole of the aviation sector
was very much on the agenda at Aeronautics Days 2001.
culmination of a development
The launching pad for a European aeronautics research area over
the next two decades, the Aeronautics Days are the result of a process
brought to fruition over a number of years by the efforts of the
Commission in association with all the air transport players. It
was the creation of an Aeronautics Task Force in 1995 that triggered
the initial initiatives aimed at increasing the coordination of
European research projects in the field of aircraft manufacture
(aircraft, equipment and engine manufacturers) and within the global
management of the air transport system (ATM, ATC, ground infrastructures).
impetus created by the Task Force led to the creation under the
current Fifth Framework Programme (1999-2002) of the major key action
dedicated to New perspectives for aeronautics.
The research strategy focuses on two priorities of relevance to
the whole issue of air transport: the development of technologies
seen as critical in the medium or long term, and the implementation
of the new concept of major technological platforms aimed at validating
innovations before they reach the market.
key action has a budget of 700 million euros for a four-year period
- nearly three times the resources devoted to European aeronautics
research between 1995 and 1998.
European aviation area
funding - which now represents 30% of the public research funds
allocated to the sector in the European Union - has thus become
vital to the future of the aviation sector. As such it is an excellent
example of the European Research
Area in practice, a political objective already supported
by all the manufacturers concerned.
April 2000, their representatives within the External
Advisory Group, which is charged with advising the Commission
on implementing research under the present key action, published
for Europe memorandum which lays the foundations for a new
vision of the European system up to 2020. Following this `charter'
in favour of a new industrial partnership under EU auspices, last
Philippe Busquin charged a group of 14 personalities
from Europe's air transport sector with acting on the priorities
to achieve tangible results within this time-frame.
results of this strategic consultation was on the agenda at the
main objectives of the Aeronautics key action
development of new generations of aircraft
reduction in production costs
reduction in development time
in aircraft efficiency
reduction in fuel consumption
for the environment
dB reduction in sound level
reduction in CO2 emissions
reduction in NOx
capacity and safety
of airspace use
reduction in maintenance costs
rate of accidents
questions for Marc Vincendon
(Research director Airbus - Toulouse)
what ways is the European Union taking into account
the expectations of Airbus
research coordination in all the vital areas of aeronautics
development is genuinely seen as a vital necessity
by all the players in the European sector. As early
as 1997, the sector's industrialists - the aircraft,
equipment, and engine manufacturers - took stock of
their strategic needs under EIAP (European Integrated
Aeronautics Programme) and our expectations were generally
taken into account in the architecture of the Aeronautics
key action under the Fifth Framework Programme, which
provided greatly increased resources. The programme's
architecture - with research projects in critical
areas on the one hand, and major technological platforms
on the other - effectively contributes to the objectives
of the European industry.
does this added value translate in the field?
is by nature a completely trans-European company and
we see the European research programmes as being of
very significant value. The EU initiatives provide
an ideal support framework, making it possible to
involve aircraft manufacturers and suppliers in all
the Member States. This produces a vertical integration
of the equipment manufacturers' chain, where there
are many SMEs which can consequently also be involved
in research. For example, I coordinate the TANGO(Technology
Application to Near-Term Business Goals and Objectives
of the Aerospace Industry) technological platform
- 34 participants in 12 European countries - which
coordinates the validation of European technologies
aimed at reducing the weight and manufacturing costs
of aircraft cell structures. The ambitious objective
of this vast operation is to achieve about a 20% reduction
does a group such as yours see as being the most pressing
respect for the environment, and passenger comfort
must all be improved. And of course aircraft design,
construction and operating costs must be reduced.
A number of projects and platforms in which we or
our associates are involved are focusing on these
aspects. But more radical responses to these essential
concerns to the aircraft manufacturer can be found
by studying the advanced configurations that will
define the aviation of the future. These studies must
be given every encouragement. All these priorities
are fully integrated in our approaches.
and the environment
if increasingly important progress has been made in limiting
emissions, the impact of aviation on the environment is a
cause of concern as it takes place in a particularly sensitive
part of the Earth's ecosystem.
has two Achilles heels: noise and air pollution. Despite the enormous
progress in reducing these major nuisances, the prospect of sustained
growth in global air transport presents aeronautics research with
a major environmental challenge.
aeronautics industry has not rested on its laurels where the environment
is concerned. The noise level of an Airbus 320 is around 20 dB less
than that of a Caravelle or Boeing 727 40 years ago. And when it
comes to aviation fuel consumption - and thus the volume of greenhouse
gas emissions - the reduction is around 70%.
Although the modern aircraft is increasingly `clean', the life
of an aircraft - between 20 and 25 years on average - nevertheless
means that it takes time before the technological advances which
can reduce pollution are able to produce their effect. Another problem
is the rapid growth in air traffic. In the past, complaints from
people living close to airports were limited, and far and few between
- rather like the aircraft themselves. Today the daily - and often
nocturnal - comings and goings at large and medium-sized airports
pose, and will increasingly pose, many problems, with an environmental
impact (noise and air pollution in residential areas) which borders
on the intolerable. Almost everywhere there is a growing demand
for regulating action and the ICAO (International Civil Aviation
Organisation) is drawing up stricter standards.
other concern is for areas far from human habitation, in the cold
expanses of the upper atmosphere where the planet's global ecosystem
is engaged in a precarious balancing act in the face of the action
of solar radiation. Unlike ground-based sources of pollution, aircraft,
despite the strenuous efforts to limit their emissions, are in part
active in a particularly sensitive region of the Earth's environment.
To date, little account has been taken of the impact of air traffic
on these high-altitude chemical processes, but the increased research
efforts of recent years have significantly improved our understanding
of the effect of aircraft emissions on the atmosphere.
reduction requires increasingly complex innovation involving
all an aircraft's structures - not just the engines, but also
the wings, high lift devices, fuselage and landing gear.
Although the contribution of aviation to the production of CO2,
the principal greenhouse gas, remains moderate (around 12% of the
total pollution attributed to the transport sector), the forecast
increase in traffic is changing the picture. Present generations
of aircraft engines are also a source of two other types of emission
of particular concern: oxides of nitrogen (NOX) and water vapour.
a report dated October 1999, the IPCC
(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) - the global organisation
whose role is to assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic
information relevant for understanding the risk of human-induced
climate change - estimated that NOx emissions cause a significant
increase in ozone formation at the boundary between the troposphere
and stratosphere, the altitude at which this gas causes a greenhouse
effect. What is more, in the air corridors the increasing number
of contrails (familiar white streaks caused by the emission of water
vapour into a very cold atmosphere) could be contributing to the
formation of additional high-altitude cirrus clouds, although the
mechanisms for this are not well understood. About 30% of the earth's
surface is covered with cirrus clouds and any increase will tend
to add to global warming.
from the unflagging commitment to reducing emissions
at source, i.e. in the engines, the only way to combat
air pollution caused by air traffic effectively - and
in particular to legislate on the subject - is by acquiring
an in-depth knowledge of its real impact on the environment.
Thus, in 1993, at the initiative of Airbus, four airlines
(Air France, Sabena, Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa)
agreed to equip five Airbus A340s operating on scheduled
flights with sophisticated equipment to measure ozone
and water vapour concentrations. Known as Mozaic,
this project, funded by the EU on a cost sharing basis,
gathered data from some 95 000 flying hours on routes
virtually worldwide, providing essential material for
assessing the composition of the air on air traffic
routes. The evaluation itself was carried out by the
(Identification of Aircraft Emissions for Reduction
Technologies) network, a research platform launched
in 1997 involving all the scientific players in the
aeronautics field - from industry to air traffic officials,
and including specialists in measurement, database management
and development of models.
chasing the noise
real progress made in combating noise is largely thanks to the efforts
of the engine manufacturers. European research is aimed at an integrated
approach involving all parts of the aircraft. `As we make improvements
reducing the overall noise level, further reduction requires increasingly
complex innovations involving all the aircraft's structures. It's
not just the engines but also aerodynamic noise from the wings,
high lift devices, fuselage and landing gear,' stresses Per Kruppa,
who coordinates the Noise projects at the Research DG.
was to embrace all these aspects that, in 1998, the EU's X-Noise
initiative was launched. X-Noise is a cluster of projects concerning
all aspects of aircraft noise and with multiple objectives. It involves
research centres, university laboratories and industry - 32 partners
in all - and has a budget close to 30 million euros (60% funded
by the EU, 40% by industry). Its stated aim is a global reduction
of 8 dB. Research themes include the propagation of noise from jet
turbines (the Ducat and Resound projects), the integration of the
nacelles supporting the engines in the aircraft structure (Ranntac)
and the reduction of noise produced by the aircraft structures (wings
and landing-gear). In addition, the Sourdine project is not only
bringing technical improvements to aircraft but is also looking
at how to optimise landing and take-off procedures to make them
less noisy for people around airports.
the current key action, the technological validation platform known
as Low external noise aircraft is building on the work of
X-Noise - and with increased
resources at its disposal.
million euros for the clean engine
in March 2000, the Efficient and Environmentally Friendly Aircraft
Engine (EEFAE) technological platform is an ambitious action
with a substantial budget (100 million euros) aimed at meeting the
challenge of emissions reduction. Its aim is to validate, and integrate
into engine design and development, a bundle of innovative, emission-reducing
technologies (in terms of engine aero-thermodynamics, combustion,
cooling, materials and manufacturing processes) which have already
been studied and developed under European or national research programmes.
Fifteen industrial partners, three research centres, two universities
and several SMEs in 10 countries are involved in the EEFAE's two
distinct research concepts. `These two concepts have quite different
missions. One, the Affordable Near Term Low Emissions Engine (ANTLE),
conducted by Rolls-Royce, is aimed at introducing the best technologies
possible for reducing polluting emissions in the next generation
of engines,' explains Reiner Dunker, a scientific officer at the
Commission. 'The other concept, the Component vaLidation for Environmentally-friendly
Aero-eNgine (CLEAN), conducted
by engine manufacturers SNECMA and MTU, is endeavouring to develop
a new engine cycle using an intercooler and a heat exchanger with
a view to drastically reducing CO2 and NOx
under a single sky
traffic congestion - more than one in five flights has an
average delay of 15 minutes - must be resolved by means of
a radical technological reform integrating air traffic flow
management at airports and in the sky.
Europe's market may now be `single', its sky still has a long way
to go. The prospect of growing congestion on air routes and at airports
- with the underlying threat to safety - is making it essential
to develop the technology and regulations to provide an efficient
and reliable system, offering increased capacity and incorporating
all aspects of air traffic management. This is a top priority at
the heart of Europe's aeronautics research.
increase in air traffic has been dramatic. At the end of 2000 the
total number of aircraft movements (take-offs and landings) is 18%
up on 1997. But according to AEA
(Association of European Airlines) statistics, 22% of flights recorded
delays of more than 15 minutes in 1998 (With a record 31% in 1999,
partly explained by the air space disturbances caused by military
intervention in the former Yugoslavia) compared to 13% in 1993.
Apart from the indirect cost to passengers, these delays are estimated
to cost the airlines the equivalent of 10 billion euros a year in
terms of less efficient use of equipment and personnel, fuel wastage
and passenger compensation.
jams in the sky
are a variety of reasons for these delays,' explains Patrick Bernard,
a scientific officer at the Energy and Transport DG. `Half of them
can be attributed to organisational problems at increasingly congested
airports, and to the internal problems of the airlines. But it is
estimated that at least 50% of delays are caused by increasingly
critical problems with air traffic control, involving aircraft in
the air and on the ground.'
challenge facing the development of what the experts refer to as
the EATMS (European Air Traffic Management System) is a measure
of the complexity of the European sky, a jig-saw of national air
spaces coordinated by 68 national and local control centres. The
ATM 2000+ Strategy plan, managed by the trans-European air traffic
control body Eurocontrol,
is the response to this challenge.
research for increased safety
strategy involves a three-stage implementation process, culminating
in 2015 in the Single European Sky. It also involves a major research
effort on new technological systems able to manage constantly growing
air traffic and progressively integrate it into a pan-European control
system. This is a highly sensitive field in which every innovation
must be validated to ensure maximum reliability in terms of safety.
stresses Alain Joselzon, a scientific officer at the Research DG,
`is certainly a constant and ever present concern running vertically
and horizontally through the whole aeronautics sector. It culminates,
in particular, in air traffic control, the point at which all the
factors relating to man, machine and the external environment permanently
two-thirds of current European aeronautics research projects are
looking at various aspects of ATM, including ground traffic flow
management. They address, for example, the transmission and processing
of increasingly large volumes of data enabling control centres and
towers to model traffic flows in the air or in the environment of
airports, new tools for aircraft positioning, new avionics instruments
and man-machine interfaces installed in the cockpits. Much of the
research is also linked to validating the safety of these new technologies,
their combined use and their dissemination.
`development of critical technologies' under the present Aeronautics
key action is actively supporting research on EATMS, encompassing
all aspects linked to accident prevention and the reliability -
at minimum cost - of aircraft maintenance operations. A specific
technological platform is also aimed at validating advanced on-board
navigation technologies and their integration in the global architecture
of the future EATMS on which Eurocontrol is working.