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Headlines Published on 30 October 2007

Title Air transport projects get the green light

Thirty-six research projects have received EU funding in support of ideas to make air transport safer, more cost-efficient and more environmentally friendly. The funding round represents an injection of EUR 217 million a fraction of the EUR 2.1 billion total committed for aeronautics research between 2007 and 2013 under the Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7). Due to begin in 2008, some of the research will focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, developing new systems to improve aircraft safety in bad weather, and determining ways of reducing aircraft production and development costs.

EUR 217 million for cleaner, safer and more efficient air transport.
EUR 217 million for cleaner, safer and more efficient air transport.
The European Commission said that many of the selected projects will work towards the EU's goals of halving carbon emissions per passenger kilometre by 2020.

In total, 196 proposals were received by the EC for research in aeronautics and air transport (a Call for Proposals was issued earlier in 2007). Of these proposals, 89 were short-listed, from which independent evaluators selected the successful 36 projects.

Four of the projects represent large-scale research programmes, and will be led by major air-transport industry manufacturers. Each project is expected to reinforce Europe's industrial leadership and respond to aviation environmental and safety standards.

One of these projects, titled DREAM (or the Validation of Radical Engine Architecture Systems), will be led by Rolls-Royce and involve 47 partners from 13 countries. Their collective goal will be to reach a 7 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and a three-decibel reduction in noise.

The three other projects include: MAAXIMUS, aimed at improving the composition and design of aircraft fuselages; HIRF SE, aimed at creating simulators to test the reaction of new aircraft to electromagnetic interference; and SCARLETT, aimed at developing advanced modular avionics platforms for a range of aircraft types.

The bulk of the EUR 217 million has been allocated to the 32 smaller projects, including HISVESTA, headed by SINTEF (The Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research) at the Norwegian Institute of Technology.

The project aims to develop high-stability altimeters to produce very accurate measurements of the vertical-distance separations between aircraft. These instruments could be particularly useful for aircraft in densely trafficked high-altitude airspace (for example, busy transatlantic airways, which are not radar-controlled), where reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) rules apply.

Instead of the standard 2 000 feet, RVSM procedures permit the vertical separation between aircraft at cruise altitudes to be 1 000 feet. With RSVM airspace essentially cut in half, aircraft using it are required to have exceptionally accurate navigation equipment and flight instruments installed. HISVESTA addresses this concern.

Six of the 32 projects are Coordinated Actions, aimed at stimulating the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and new EU Member States in the area of air transport research.

More information:

  • Air Transport Portal of the European Commission
  • Environmental Portal of the European Commission
  • Fuel-cell powered aircraft take to the skies

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