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EU and Russians meet on aeronautics co-operation

On 27-28 April 2006, a major conference brought EU and the Russian Federation representatives together in Brussels to discuss increasing collaboration in aeronautics research. Present were Europe’s leading aerospace firms and research institutes and their Russian counterparts to discuss topics of mutual interest, ongoing co-operative efforts, and new opportunities for funding under the EU’s Research Framework Programme.

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After nearly a century of leadership in aerospace, Russia has a wealth of experience and expertise to offer its international partners. The EU’s Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) has allowed Russian and European researchers to forge important ties and to increase their collaborative efforts, moving forward on important aeronautics research initiatives. Now, researchers on both sides are looking towards the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7, 2007-2013), which they hope will bring even greater opportunities for collaboration and exchange. Opening the ‘EU-Russia Co-operation in Aeronautics Research’ conference in Brussels, Jack Metthey, Director of the Commission’s Research DG Transport Directorate, noted a three-fold over-registration. “I am very encouraged by this show of participation,” he said, “because it demonstrates the high level of interest of both the European and Russian aeronautics communities in this event. This is indeed a positive sign for our future work together.”

“In the area of science and technology, the EU and the Russian Federation have a long history of active co-operation and of collaborative achievement,” said José Manuel Silva Rodríguez, EU Director-General of DG Research. “I understand that many of you participated in the first fruitful meeting in October 2003 in Moscow, designed to promote Russian participation in the Sixth EU Research Framework Programme. That event resulted in at least 10 successful aeronautics research projects with European and Russian collaboration - a demonstration of our will to work together, our common interests and the complementarity of our research efforts.

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José Manuel Silva Rodríguez

“This second meeting comes at a particularly strategic time. The recent adoption of roadmaps for four ‘Common Spaces’ that encompass a range of policy areas of common interest - from economic issues, to environment and energy, security matters, and research and education - combined with the current Russian chairmanship of the G8, the debates on the renewal of the Partnership Co-operation Agreement, and the upcoming EU-Russia Summit have all given a new driving force and dynamism to relations between the EU and Russia.”

Boris Alyoshin, Head of the Russian Federation’s Agency for Industry, said, “We believe the time is right to move from discussion to real and concrete research initiatives. We have already had some success working within the European Union’s Framework Programme and I see no reason why we should not now move forward more quickly with new and broader common initiatives.”

No slowing down for EU-Russia joint research

The increasing Russian involvement in the EU Framework Programme has proven fruitful, and the European Commission is eager to see that trend continue. Russian researchers are now key partners, making major contributions and helping the EU to reach its industrial, political and societal goals. Russian researchers are co-operating on a bilateral basis with EU Member States, as well as at European level within the Framework Programme, within the INTAS framework, and through the International Science & Technology Center.

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Boris Alyoshin

The most striking examples of this co-operation include:

  • Fusion research – in particular within the ITER project;
  • Materials and nanotechnologies;
  • Space – where Russia and Europe have been collaborating for years on cosmonaut training, space exploration, Galileo, and for the future launching of Soyuz from the European Space Centre in Guyana.

The EU and Russia also have a history of successful co-operation in:

  • Information technologies;
  • Climate change and ecosystems - through ongoing dialogue on earth observation (EO) and participation in the GEO initiative;
  • And, of course, in aeronautics.

“Under the Sixth Research Framework Programme (2002-2006), Russia is currently one of the most active and the most successful ‘third country’ participants, in terms of funding support received from the European Commission,” said Silva Rodríguez.

A full agenda

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Exchange of views

The conference featured presentations by leading lights from both European and Russian aerospace sectors. Participants included representatives of major European and Russian aeronautics players, including, from Europe, Snecma, Airbus, EREA and DLR, and, from Russia, VIAM, TsAGI, CIAM, GosNIIAS and the Gromov Flight Research Institutes.

Research topics discussed included new aircraft concepts, new materials and engine designs, and advanced operational concepts for air traffic management (ATM). Major issues for all areas of aeronautics research include environmental performance, increasing capacity and efficiency, strengthening industrial competitiveness and ensuring both passenger safety and air transport security.

Also discussed were particular issues relating to cross-cultural exchange. “In our experience with our Russian partners, we have overcome many difficulties,” said Airbus’ Axel Krein, “not only in the scientific and technological sense but also in the cultural sense. This means learning about different organisational and regulatory elements, as well as different ways of working and thinking.”

SESAR – Russians urged to participate in major EU initiative

The predicted increase in European air transport will be unsustainable without a real change in ATM technologies and operations. The Single European Sky legislation, adopted in 2004, provides for in-depth institutional reform of European ATM. SESAR (Single European Sky ATM research) is the technological component of the Single Sky. “SESAR’s aim is the development and implementation of a new generation of ATM systems,” explained Patrick Ky of the EU’s Transport and Energy Directorate-General. “The programme is conceived as a public-private partnership, open to international co-operation with partner countries, including Russia.”

“We’ve got the right people here,” said Liam Breslin, Head of EU Aeronautics Research. Citing ongoing and successful collaborative efforts, Breslin outlined new opportunities for co-operation under FP7, set for launch in 2007. “You now have a year to prepare yourselves,” he said. “Our first call for proposals will come next spring. You’ve seen the types of projects we are looking for and you’ve met lots of interesting people who you can collaborate with on common goals. Now let’s go to work and see what we can accomplish.”