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Press release

Cleaner, quieter, safer, & more user-friendly air travel: Commission supports new Strategic Research Agenda for Europe


Brussels, 22 July 2002

Key words : aeronautics industry, Strategic Research Agenda, European Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research


Cutting CO2 emissions by 50%, reducing the number of accidents by a factor of five, halving aircraft noise, and providing near perfect punctuality (with 99% of all EU flights landing and departing within 15 minutes of schedule) - these are among the breakthrough objectives of a new Strategic Research Agenda for the EU aeronautics industry announced today at the Farnborough International Airshow.

At a press conference, Philippe Busquin, EU Research Commissioner unveiled the blueprint for this new strategic research agenda (SRA) proposed by the high level European Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research (ACARE). Joining Commissioner Busquin were Walter Kröll, Chairman of ACARE and Chairman of the Association of German Aerospace Research Centres, Jean-Marc Thomas, Senior V-P, Research and Technology, EADS, and Vice-Chairman of ACARE, and Jean-Paul Béchat, Chairman & CEO, SNECMA Group and AECMA President. This event was an opportunity to take stock of the progress accomplished since the launch of ACARE, a broad-based initiative supported by all EU stakeholders one year ago at the Paris Airshow. The panel presented key findings of ACARE’s Strategic Research Agenda, which will be formally issued later this year to provide a roadmap on how the EU aerospace industry intends to meet global challenges as Europe enters “a new age of aviation”.

Commissioner Busquin said: “I welcome ACARE’s findings. They are consistent with our 2020 vision for aeronautics and the STAR 21 report (“Strategic Aerospace Review for the 21st Century”) released last week. All agree on the need to step up research in this sector. The success of our aeronautics industry today depends on research investments made 15 years ago. Without higher R&D investments today and a consistent approach at EU level, we compromise the sector’s future. In a global and highly competitive market, European enterprises cannot make it without joining forces with the EU and Member States. Building on a vision for aeronautics in the 21st Century, we can avoid duplication and waste of resources, and pool forces to reach a critical mass at European scale. The 6th EU Research Framework Programme (FP6 2002-2006) will allocate € 1,075 billion to aerospace-related research. But on top of funding and access to finance, the sector needs regulatory and policy support, to help create a true aeronautics industrial platform at EU level.”


Aerospace: a strategic challenge for Europe.

A flourishing aerospace industry is a strategic necessity for Europe to realise its political and economic ambitions. Strong European aerospace capabilities have become indispensable to maintaining competition in world markets for a wide range of civil and defence products and safeguarding Europe’s freedom of action in its external policies. The aerospace industry itself has restructured on a European level, so the issues that affect it should also be addressed from a European perspective.

A pivotal role for research

As Europe enters a new age of aviation, that of “sustainable growth”, a paradigm change is needed to meet the 2020 challenges. Simultaneously in different areas (air traffic management, propulsion, aerodynamics) new thinking and new approaches are needed. Concretely, this means an acceleration of the research effort. All stakeholders are getting together to improve the organisation, clarify the goals and increase the efficiency of aeronautics research in Europe. This means stronger partnerships between all stakeholders, public and private, and clear strategic research agendas and time-tables. It also means more and better-used resources - what ACARE’s Chairman summarises by “more research for money, more money for research”.

ACARE: membership and mission

Launched at the Paris Airshow in June 2001, ACARE was set up as a response to the invitation of EU aerospace stakeholders, including the European Commission and Member States, for a thorough review of how the EU aerospace sector might best meet the new challenges of the 21st Century. Underpinning this initiative was an acceptance that the relentless increase in global aviation traffic cannot be endured by present systems without unacceptable penalties. Fundamental changes in perspective are required to balance upward demand and the broader needs of society for economic and social benefits. Research has a pivotal role to play in delivering these goals.
ACARE comprises about 30 members, including representation from the EU aeronautics industry, Member States, the Commission, Eurocontrol, research centres, airlines, regulators; and European users. It meets several times a year, with the primary mission of defining and maintaining a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) which will serve as a blueprint in the planning of research programmes, notably national and EU programmes.

ACARE missions include

  • To develop, approve, and regularly update the Strategic Research Agenda,
  • To make strategic and operational recommendations for implementing the SRA;
  • To broaden understanding of aerospace-related issues in Europe
  • To promote awareness of the role of research to recommend measures for attracting scientists, and optimising the use of research infrastructures

Strategic Research Agenda

The Report “European Aeronautics: A Vision for 2020”, which led to the launch of ACARE, stressed the need to make Europe world leader in aeronautics, building on scientific and technological excellence. The way to achieve this goal was through common mechanisms, collaboration and a single shared vision embodied in a Strategic Research Agenda. One year on, ACARE is ready to outline how a new SRA can become the basis for how this will be done. It suggests that a very ambitious SRA is needed, but points out that the penalties of failure to rise to the challenge would be hugely detrimental to the whole of Europe, and not just to the aviation community. Key findings of the SRA: see annex


For further information please contact:

Herbert Von Bose, Head of Unit, Aeronautics, Research DG
Tel.: +32 2 295 90 74,
E-mail :

Patrick Vittet-Philippe , Press and information officer Research DG
Tel.: +, fax: +

Documents quoted can be found on the European Commission Space website at:



(Quotes from the ACARE document unveiled in Farnborough)

Last year’s launch of the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) signalled that Europe is ready to seize these opportunities and will not surrender to the risks. The relentless increase in aviation traffic cannot be endured by our present systems for more decades without profound and unacceptable penalties. Fundamental changes in perspective will be required in future years to balance upward demand and the broader needs of society for economic and social benefits. The solutions must embrace such challenges as noise, emissions, congestion, delays and inconvenience. Europe now has a fresh opportunity to decide its own future in aeronautics, rather than risk becoming a helpless victim of circumstance. The Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) will become the ACARE plan for how this will be done.

SRA: Key Findings

  • The Top Level Objectives, even though ambitious, are achievable in Europe, if a challenging Strategic Research Agenda, such as that being prepared by ACARE, is adopted, implemented and its results deployed into practical products and services with a high level of commitment.
  • These objectives include, inter alia
  • 50% cut in CO2 and 80% in Nox emission
  • Fivefold reductions in accidents
  • Reduction of noise by 50%
  • Increased punctuality: 99% of all flights arriving and departing within 15 minutes of schedule
  • The SRA provides solutions and R&T programmes to be undertaken to achieve the Top Level Objectives as outlined in Vision 2020. The objectives are not achievable without important breakthroughs, in both technology and in concepts of operation - evolutions of current concepts will not be sufficient.
  • Delivering the Top Level Objectives will require a number of additional and significant Pan-European supporting mechanisms within the European Research Area. Mechanisms are needed to release the untapped potential of the whole European supply chain. These major efforts will need enhanced contributions from the educational community to provide the flow of trained people needed. More effective and efficient research infrastructure and all of these supporting changes must be built around a new level of ability to harness the collective capabilities and common interests throughout the technology supply chain in Europe. The increased requirements from certification authorities and the numerous technologies in today’s aircraft, together with the inevitable rising complexity in future aircraft, make the certification process crucial for the industry in terms of quality, cost and time.
  • Delivering these European ambitions will require substantially more output from the European aeronautic research community which must devise new ways to make the system of research, in all its forms, more efficient.
  • It is clear that more investment from both public and private sources will be needed. The preliminary estimate as mentioned in Vision 2020 “possibly in excess of E100 billion over 20 years” has been confirmed.
  • The aspirations for European leadership will only be achieved if the climate in Europe remains conducive to retaining core competence, capacities and industrial centres of research. The ambition of SRA is for the European Stakeholders to succeed in the global market, both by competition and by collaboration, from a strong, effective European base. This requires that major corporations, which increasingly have international links and options, continue to invest their resources in Europe. But Europe must provide a receptive environment, ensuring equal competitive footing with other countries and regions.

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