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News Alert

Research on aeronautics for world-class air transport
receives EU funding

Brussels, 2 August 2010

An EU-wide call for research proposals in aeronautics and air transport has resulted in the choice of 42 innovative projects to be funded by the European Commission. A number of these seek to bring together European researchers with scientists in Russia and China to develop a research base for world-class air transportation.

The main call was the third one for aeronautics and air transport issued under the Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7). Scientists were invited to submit proposals for research and technology development activities that will later find application in making air transport greener, safer, and more efficient. Out of two hundred proposals received, the 42 best ones from all corners of Europe were selected to be given a combined funding of €108 million.

Within the main call were the first joint calls in aeronautics to support cooperation with researchers of air transport and aviation in Russia and China. The European Commission will contribute a total of €7 million to European researchers working on projects together with Chinese or Russian colleagues. The Chinese and Russian governments will in turn support their own scientists with an equal amount of funding.

This type of international cooperation will attract new researchers and deepen complex technological and theoretical knowledge. It also enables scientists to share facilities. As an example, Russian scientists will give their European colleagues access to their premises and laboratories.

The selected projects will explore pioneering ideas for future aviation and carry out further research into topics such as lighter aircraft structures and equipment, greener engines, flight physics, reducing aircraft noise and increasing safety.

The first projects that will be funded under this third call are planned to start in September 2010.

Examples - a few of the projects that were selected:

Reducing cost of titanium components - COLTS (Casting of Large Titanium Structures)

Titanium is a light material used to make aircraft and their engines. Producing large titanium structures poses challenges that drive up the price. This project brings seven European and seven Chinese partners together to look into ways to cut back costs, for example by reducing the amount of raw material that is wasted during production.

Proposed EU contribution: €1.5 million

Building quieter aircraft – ORINOCO (Advanced Engine Noise control based on plasma actuators)

Aircraft noise affects many European citizens. Noise reduction is needed to enable more frequent flights without causing additional inconvenience to the surroundings. This project is a collaboration between seven EU and six Russian partners from academia and the research community. They will carry out theoretical, numerical and experimental research for the implementation of a technique of 'plasma actuators' that will reduce jet noise.

Proposed EU contribution: €1.5 million

Better survival of passengers in aircraft fires – AircraftFire

It is important to keep the number of passengers injured in fire accidents in-flight or after a crash as low as possible. To this end, this research involves aviation authorities, universities, research establishments, and end-user groups. They will work together to increase chances of survival for passengers trapped in a fire.

Proposed EU contribution: €3.2 million

Landing safely on water – SMAES (Smart Aircraft in Emergency Situations)

Many flights include sections over water and, historically speaking, a water landing occurs once every five years. Survival rates are currently around 75% and research need to be done to increase this to 100%. This project addresses problems of passenger survival during all phases of a water landing: from the moment of approaching water up to the actual floating.

Proposed EU contribution: €3.8 million

Facts and figures on EU funding for aeronautics research

The EU is providing over €2 billion in funding for aeronautics research between 2007 and 2013, under the Seventh Research Framework Programme (FP7). The objectives are to develop safer, greener and smarter transport systems for Europe that will benefit citizens, respect the environment and increase the competitiveness of European industries in the global market.

So far, 123 research projects on aeronautics and air transport have been selected for funding by FP7-Transport. These focus on the reduction of emissions, work on engines and alternative fuels, aircraft structures and aerodynamics, avionics and other on-board systems, airports, and safety, security and environmental aspects of aviation. The EU contribution is approximately €530 million.

Contacts:     

Liam Breslin, Head of Unit – Aeronautics, Research DG (liam.breslin@ec.europa.eu)

Marina Lacroix, Policy co-ordinator (marina.lacroix@ec.europa.eu)

Web site: EU Transport Research - Aeronautics