tech on display at Le Bourget
Europe was out in force at this year's Paris
Air Show, an event that featured new planes, new ideas and a new approach
to aeronautics research in the form of the ACARE, the new Advisory Council
for Aeronautics Research in Europe.
Paris Air Show is the longest established event of its kind, first
held in the Grand-Palais in central Paris in 1909. It has been, and remains,
the world's premier air show. This year's 44th edition gave over 300,000
visitors an opportunity to inspect 240 aircraft and to visit displays
by almost 2,000 exhibitors from 43 countries.
Dominating the static aircraft exhibit were the Ariane
launchers at the 'Europe in Space' pavilion and the Airbus
ATI Beluga freight transport aircraft with its giant nose section flipped
open to allow visitors a peak at its cavernous cargo bay. Meanwhile, dazzled
spectators were treated to non-stop overhead displays by a myriad of exciting
new aircraft, including the elegant Airbus A340-600 prototype and a series
of nifty Eurocopters
and business jets. Finally, the skies roared as the world's most advanced
fighter jets, including the Dassault
Rafale, the Saab Gripen
and the Eurofighter
Typhoon, put on hair-raising displays of power and agility.
It was against this backdrop that selected guests
were invited by Commissioner Busquin to witness the opening of the first
working meeting of the new Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in
In his welcoming statement, addressed both to the Council and visitors,
Mr Busquin said, "In its report,
delivered in Hamburg
last January, the Group of Personalities called on all of us to make Europe
a global leader in the field of aeronautics but, without question, in
order to achieve this, we know that good research is an essential element.
Europe has to further improve the organisation of its efforts in the face
of worldwide competition, especially from the United States."
||Why the Paris
For Europe, aerospace is without doubt a highly
strategic industry in terms of technology, the economy and employment.
Excellence in aerospace contributes greatly to our international
reputation and to the construction of Europe.
Since the 1999 Paris Air Show, the industry
has undergone profound changes at national and European levels.
The combination of political will to strengthen Europe's hand in
aerospace and defence and sustained efforts by the industry's leaders
has resulted in successful restructuring. Today, Europe boasts groups
such as EADS,
bringing together French, German and Spanish aircraft manufacturers,
previously Thomson-CSF, which has now absorbed Racal and MBDA, bringing
together French, British and Italian leaders in missile systems.
Meanwhile, companies like Dassault Aviation and Snecma
have remained strong in their home markets while, at the same time,
consolidating world leadership in their respective fields.
In addition to newly formed Europe-wide groups
and major national programmes, established groups such as Airbus,
Eurocopter, Matra-BAe Dynamics, Euromissile,
Ariane have for many years exemplified the determination to set
up transnational cooperative programmes. Successful unity-building
European programmes include the Airbus A380 super-jumbo jet, the
Airbus A400M military transport and its turboprop engines, the Tiger
90 helicopters, the Meteor
missile, the Ariane 5 launch vehicle, and the Galileo
satellite navigation network. Of these, the Tiger, NH 90 and Ariane
5 projects are all in the production phase.
From the largest to the smallest, numerous
European equipment manufacturers, system suppliers and other SMEs
are now fully integrated members of the aerospace supply chain.
Indeed, small and medium-size enterprises are forging ahead thanks
to new products, growing international sales, and constant innovation.
||ACARE - what it
is all about
Rose and Philippe Busquin at the ACARE opening
"Here at Le Bourget we can already see
the results of European co-operation," said Busquin, "but
in order to succeed in our goal of creating a true European
Research Area, we need to develop and implement a more unified,
more strategic approach to European aeronautics research and that
is the goal of the new ACARE."
Also speaking before the ACARE members
were President of DLR
and Group of Personalities and ACARE member Walter Kröll, CEO
of Rolls Royce
Jim Rose, Patrice Parisé from the French Transport Ministry,
and Erik Van Nuffel from the Belgian Communications and Infrastructure
Set up on the recommendation of the Group
of Personalities, ACARE comprises some thirty or so members,
representing Member States, the Commission and stakeholders.
The eminent personalities include DLR President Walter Kröll,
François Lureau, General Director of the Thales aeronautics
group, Phil Ruffles, Director of Engineering and Technology
at Rolls Royce, Joachim Szodruch, Director of EADS Airbus
and Victor Aguado, General Director of Eurocontrol.
The ACARE will meet two to three
times a year and will submit a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA)
as well as its positions, opinions, recommendations and reports
to all the relevant players.
For Parisé, the ACARE is a move
in the right direction. "To put it simply," he said, "France
supports the ACARE, and I know from top-level sources that the Airbus
group is also very much behind it. We now have some very clear themes
that we need to focus on in the aeronautics field. They include
first and foremost research but with a view to the environment,
cutting noise and emissions and improving safety. We see this new
Advisory Council as a clear sign of the willingness to move forward
in the spirit of co-operation and we applaud the work you the members
are about to undertake."
Jim Rose said, "Aeronautics is a
truly global industry whose impact is felt on a very local level,
and with the ever-increasing growth we're seeing, we need to start
addressing this local impact. The Group of Personalities has set
some very ambitious goals - reducing accidents, noise and CO2 emissions,
shorter flight delays and the rest. I can say, coming from industry,
that we will deliver the needed technologies, but co-ordination
is clearly essential and the Commission has shown its commitment
in setting up the ACARE here today."
Walter Kröll spoke next, rousing spirits
in typical style (see Kröll's
Aeronautics Days speech), saying, "We are facing here a
great societal and competitive challenge, and now it's time for
Europe to go for it! As we join forces we are more than just the
sum of our individual parts, but along with increased efficiency,
sustained public funding is also a prerequisite. Finally, we absolutely
need to continue to train first-class scientists to feed our industry,
and that also means preparing boys and girls from a very young age
to enjoy science and technology. With our great minds joining forces
we can deliver a world-class air transport system, in line with
society's needs and still highly competitive on the global playing
Finally, Erik Van Nuffel added his support:
"We are behind the ACARE whole heartedly. It is important now
that we can continue to improve aviation research and we hope to
see more work on regulatory aspects in the coming Sixth Framework
Programme. We would also like to see a more inclusive debate on
these issues, including other stakeholders like pilots and passengers."
||Time for action
With that it was time for the group to get to
work. "ACARE starts its work today," said Busquin, in
closing. "This is a first real step towards a European Research
Area in aeronautics. In elaborating a Strategic Research Agenda,
the new Council will serve a crucial guiding role in the setting
of our common goals. Already, Aeronautics and Space has been designated
as one of seven 'thematic priority' areas in the proposal for the
Sixth Framework Programme, with 1 billion euros as a suggested budget,
but ACARE's influence will not be limited to this or any future
Guests were then invited to refresh themselves
as the ACARE members hurried off to an awaiting conference room
where they promptly set to work.
Before leaving, Busquin elaborated for
reporters: "We need to take a more global view of what we are
doing, to know which of us is best suited to doing what and when.
The idea is to get everyone together and to develop, in a rational
and co-ordinated way, the technologies we are going to need to succeed
in the future." Asked what he would say to the European 'man
in the street' who might ask, 'Why is all this tax money going into
aeronautics?' Busquin replied, "It's simple. First, to get
you where you want to go quickly and without a lot of wasted time.
Second, to get you there safely. Third, we are going to make less
noise for people on the ground, and we're going to reduce the amount
of pollution we create. You see, airplanes are everywhere today.
They are an everyday thing and here in Europe our space is limited
and our density is high. You don't have to fly a lot to benefit
from improved air transport. This is for everyone."
elegant Airbus A340-600
No description of Le Bourget event would be
complete without a closer look at at least one of the featured machines
on display. With its 380 seats, the new long-range A340-600 is the
longest and largest airliner ever built by Airbus, and its first
new aircraft type to be completed since the consortium's transformation
into a single, fully integrated company earlier this year. Making
its public debut at the Paris Air show, the A340-600 will be the
European consortium's first direct competitor to the dominant Boeing
Compared with the current Airbus workhorse,
A340-300, the A340-600 will be 9.07 metres longer, giving Airbus
a true early model 747 replacement and a near direct competitor
to the 747-400, with similar range at lower operating costs per
Meanwhile, its sister aircraft, the new A340-500,
also nearing the production phase, will be slightly shorter, seating
around 320 but it will have a massive range of 15,740 km, making
it the longest ranging airliner in the world, capable of flying
from Los Angeles to Singapore non-stop.
||Show closes on
a high note
The Paris Air Show, organised by French aerospace
industries association Gifas,
is held every second year. A meeting place, a venue for promoting
products and services and for doing business, it is the highlight
on the aerospace calendar, giving a wide variety of aeronautics
companies a unique opportunity to showcase their products and skills
to the world and to further enhance their international reputations.
Shortly before the closing of this year's show,
organisers revealed that the event had brought in 64 billion euros
worth of business from contracts signed and announced. The total
number of visitors was an all-time record at 330,000 - 10% higher
than in 1999, when it was last held.
Given the unrelenting growth predicted
in the air transport sector, the Paris Air Show looks set to go
on riding high as a premier event for many years to come. Just where
Europe will figure in the massive market it represents will no doubt
depend on how successful initiatives like the new ACARE can be in
setting the right tone and direction for co-operative research in
the coming years.