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'Clean Sky' tackles environmental issues in the air and on the ground

The Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative is building momentum in its bid to improve the environmental performance of the air transport system. Issues discussed at the first Clean Sky conference in June 2010 included 'Eco-Design', optimising environmental performance 'from cradle to grave'.

Wing shot
Clean Sky in the air and on the ground
© Peter Gutierrez

The Clean Sky initiative is aimed at speeding up the development and application of new solutions for greener air transport. With a budget of about €1.6 billion, it is one of the largest European research projects ever.

Eric Dautriat
Eric Dautriat
© Peter Gutierrez

Speaking at the Clean Sky conference on 18 June 2010 in Brussels, the initiative's Executive Director Eric Dautriat said, "This is about technology, but it is not about starting from scratch. Our aim is to pull together the best existing technologies into 'Integrated Technology Demonstrators' [ITDs], real functioning aircraft, and then to take them into the air for test flights."

Clean on the ground

But a lot of the negative impact of air transport takes place on the ground and not in the air. That's why one of the key  Clean Skyexternal link demonstrators 'Eco-Design' is focusing on the reduction of environmental impact during the on-ground phases of aircraft life.

Clean Sky Joint Undertaking Coordinating Project Officer Giuseppe Pagnano explained, "We want to apply the best manufacturing techniques that have the lowest impact on the environment. That means reducing inputs of raw materials, water and energy, and reducing the output of noxious waste and hazardous materials. And we have to address the same issues when it comes to maintenance activities throughout the lifetime of these aircraft."

Work under the Clean Sky Eco-Design ITD will encompass the use of new materials such as bio-composites, 'greener' manufacturing practices, and end-of-life recycling issues. During the demonstration phase, researchers will simulate the entire 'cradle-to-grave' life-cycle of significant aircraft sections.

The Clean Sky conference in Brussels
The Clean Sky conference in Brussels
© Peter Gutierrez

Responding to society's needs

Eric Dautriat says Eco-Design is just one of the ways Clean Sky is aiming to deliver a new and cleaner air transport system. "Ultimately we are here to ensure that our innovative technologies and ideas have real impact on the market and on society. It is no good working on new systems and processes that the market cannot use and that we cannot sell."

Representing the European Commission, Rudolf Strohmeier, Deputy Director-General of DG RTD, held up Clean Sky's real-world approach, "Today the Commission is refocusing on research for the betterment of society. We need innovation and we need it now, and Clean Sky is a prime example of how, by working together, we can create new synergies and move the air transport agenda forward."

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