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Competitive and Sustainable Growth

New perspectives for aeronautics



An Illustrative project

Silence on board. Working together in the EU's Brain project, European researchers from nine universities and research centres and seven aeronautics manufacturers have developed new mathematical models making it possible to soundproof cabins as early as the aircraft design stage. These models can provide a remarkably precise forecast of noise problems, which should not only increase cabin comfort but also help save time in the design, development and production cycle for new aircraft models. The European Space Agency is also using these results to design manned spacecraft.



Implications for society

Air traffic is set to triple by the year 2010. Aeronautics has not only become a relatively economical means of transport, it is also an increasingly important source of economic activity and jobs - both in industry (15000 to 20000 new, high-tonnage commercial aircraft will be built in the world over the next 20 years) and in the creation of services which in turn generate many more jobs.

But this growth also brings with it some serious challenges: ensuring the safety and fluidity of the growing air traffic and limiting the resultant environmental pollution.

Implications for the economy

European companies currently have a 33% share of the world's civil aviation market - thanks in particular to the success of Airbus - and EU exports in the aeronautics sector amount to 13 billion euros a year. These impressive figures are attributable to the activity of around 40 large companies and a large network of SMEs.

More than 7000 European aeronautic construction companies employ 350000 highly skilled workers, and indirectly generate employment for four times that number. Allocating 20% of its turnover to research, the aeronautics industry is also a major source of technological innovations in new materials, information technology, advanced mechanics, and environmental technologies, with benefits for the rest of industry.

Implications for Europe

It is this clear commitment to cooperation which has enabled the European aeronautics industry to win its share of the world market. But will it be able to defend its position over the next 20 years - the time it takes a new generation of aircraft to make its mark? This will depend on the ability of Europe's private and public sectors to sustain a joint and long-term R&D effort.

Targeted fields of research
  • Acquisition of critical technologies - New aeronautics concepts to reduce the environmental impact of air traffic (aerodynamics, structures, propulsion, equipment, aeroelasticity, flight mechanics, etc.).
  • Integration of technologies for new-generation aircraft - In order to reduce design, production, and operating costs (including fuel consumption), and improve aircraft performance and environmental aspects.
  • Operational efficiency and safety - The objective is threefold: alleviate airport congestion, increase the effectiveness of air traffic management systems, and improve safety performance (on-board systems, maintenance and monitoring techniques, study of human factors, etc.).

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