ACARE updates aeronautics research priorities
ACARE, the European high-level advisory group for aeronautics, has adapted its Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) to the rapidly evolving global context, adding four additional priorities.
© Peter Gutierrez
ACARE is the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe, the European Technology Platform whose SRA has provided inspiration for the Union's comprehensive aeronautics research programme.
During the Aviation Summit organised by the French EU Presidency in Bordeaux on 8 November 2008, ACARE announced the expansion of its SRA to take into account pressing concerns, including rising fuel prices and EU industrial competitiveness.
The SRA 'Addendum' points to a series of adjustments that are now required in order for the air transport sector to better tackle current and future challenges for 2020.
Volatile global context
Since 2004, oil prices have fluctuated wildly from just $30 to more than $100 a barrel, and are today moving sharply down again. Meanwhile, the dramatic collapse of the dollar against the euro has significantly eroded the competitiveness of the European aeronautical industry on the global marketplace. Other trends include increasing environmental concerns, the introduction of new security measures and the emergence of new aeronautical powers such as China.
ACARE members say the current SRA is still highly relevant in terms of overall direction and content, but they also point to important changes of emphasis over the coming years. ACARE’s principal new recommendations are as follows:
- While the air transport sector currently has a relatively small impact on the environment, that impact is likely to increase as traffic grows in the coming years. Challenges include both global climate change and local noise and air quality. The sector is vigorously pursuing technologies to mitigate environmental impact, but more rapid progress leading to real breakthroughs needs to be achieved.
- In a context of decreasing fossil fuel reserves, and the fundamental need for high-energy liquid fuels for aviation in the 2020 timeframe, the possibilities offered by various alternative fuels, e.g. derived from biomass or other sources, need to be thoroughly explored.
- In the area of security, more capable and less intrusive systems for deterrence and detection should be implemented based on existing technologies.
- Europe should take a stronger lead on international collaboration on issues such as standardisation and alignment of processes, fuels, procedures, and protocols, climate and environmental impact, while remaining sensitive to commercial issues.
Air transport remains key for European
Launched in June 2001, the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) comprises 46 members, including representatives of a wide variety of stakeholders: the EU Member States and the European Commission, the manufacturing industry, airlines, airports, service providers, regulators, the research community and academia.
Under the EU's Seventh Research Framework Programme, aeronautics and air transport research have been allocated an overall budget of nearly €1 billion, demonstrating the importance the EU is now attaching to research in this area.