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Aerodays 2005 – Strategic Research Agenda reaches new heights

The Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) presented the second edition of its Strategic Research Agenda (SRA-2) in Brussels on 30-31 March 2005. Two years after the launch of this R&D plan for the aeronautics sector, its scope and ambition has now been refined and expanded to address different future air transport scenarios.

Aerodays 2005 – Strategic Research Agenda reaches new heights
Janez Potočnik

At a time when air traffic is growing steadily and worldwide competition is putting heavy pressure on European industry, ACARE’s SRA-2 provides a common reference for research and technological development for all players. “ACARE has truly become a symbol of consensus building and co-operation within the aeronautics sector,” said European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potočnik. “With strong industrial leadership, it has remained focused on future markets and has given Europe the necessary impetus to realise its potential in cutting edge technologies.”

“Air transport is our ticket to the increasingly global economy,” said ACARE Chairman Bengt Halse,former President and CEO of SAAB AB. “Europe has some of the finest universities in the world. We have the world’s leading aerospace companies. We have now overtaken the United States in aircraft production. And we have best brains. But we need to maintain a coherent and strategic approach. The SRA-2 gives us that strategic perspective, a proper roadmap for harnessing our tremendous European assets.”

Guiding vision for an expanded Union

SRA-2 looks 20 years into the future, presenting expected or potential technology requirements in the air transport sector, based on a series of possible scenarios for the coming decades. “The ultimate goal, said Halse, “is an air transport system that is highly customer oriented, highly time- and cost-efficient, environmentally responsible and safe. Each of these requirements, in turn, represents specific technological challenges to be addressed by research and development.”

Polish Minister for Science Michal Kleiber, long active in the aerospace sector, said, “The question is whether we serve well or poorly our citizens and there can be only one answer, but this means addressing needs and sometimes conflicting needs. We in the new Member States face particular challenges, but with a clear vision and flexible means of co-operation, we believe we have a lot to offer.”

ACARE was launched in 2001. It has 39 members, including representatives from EU Member States, EUROCONTROL, the European Commission, the European aeronautics industry and air transport operators. ACARE meets several times a year, with the primary mission of defining and monitoring the implementation of the aeronautics Strategic Research Agenda (SRA).

An important sector

Today, 3.1 million people are employed in the air transport industry in Europe. Traffic growth is expected to double in 15 years, at which point air transport would be contributing up to 13% of Europe’s GDP. A thriving aerospace industry is a key factor in helping Europe meet the Lisbon goal of becoming the most competitive knowledge-based economy in the world. The ACARE Technology Platform and its Strategic Research Agenda play a crucial role in enhancing the use and efficiency of European and national investment and promoting better co-operation between public and private entities.

Bengt Halse
Bengt Halse

“The aeronautics sector continues to be one of Europe’s flagship R&D domains and it will continue to play an important role in the Community’s Research Framework Programme,” said Potočnik. “But the EU is only one source of funding. Our main role is that of catalyst, providing tools for implementing the SRA-2. Other stakeholders – universities, research institutions, national programmes and industry – must also contribute to this endeavour.”

“Europe has the ability to combine its efforts in great undertakings,” said former astronaut Umberto Guidoni, now a Member of the European Parliament. “It has already demonstrated this – just think about the Airbus A380 programme, a major milestone in aviation history. Now, with the world facing so many enormous challenges, political, environmental and economic, we must be prepared to dig deep to stay at the forefront in this important field.”