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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research themes > Aeronautics > European aeronautics on display at the Paris Air Show
Graphic element European aeronautics on display at the Paris Air Show
     
 
High tech on display at Le Bourget
High tech on display at Le Bourget
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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.

The 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 Europe (ACARE). 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 Air Show?
 

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, Thales, 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, ATR, and 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 and NH 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
 
Jim Rose and Philippe Busquin at the ACARE opening
Jim Rose and Philippe Busquin at the ACARE opening
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"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 Ministry.

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."

 
   Winning hearts and minds
 

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 field."

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 Framework Programme."

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."

 
Aircraft highlights
 
The elegant Airbus A340-600
The elegant Airbus A340-600
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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 747-400.

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 seat.

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.

 
Why the Paris Air Show?
ACARE - what it is all about
Winning hearts and minds
Time for action
Aircraft highlights
Show closes on a high note
   

Key data

Growth activities in aeronautics are covered under the New perspectives in aeronautics key action.

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