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Vienna Aeronautics conference draws international participation

Aeronautics Days 2006 brought together more than 860 participants, including delegations from every EU Member State. But far from being an all-Euro event, the conference also included many speakers and participants from the USA, Japan, Russia and China, and many other nations with a stake in the most global of industries.

Ben van Houtte and Peggy Gervasi
Ben van Houtte and Peggy Gervasi

“I’m here today to say that we need you,” declared Peggy Gervasi of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Gervasi is Acting Deputy Director of the NGATS Joint Planning and Development Office. NGATS is the US’ Next Generation Air Transportation System, currently being developed in response to the rapidly growing demand for air transport.

“It is remarkable to hear the similarities between what we are doing with the NGATS initiative and what you are doing here in Europe,” said Gervasi. “Taking an international approach is now a major priority for NGATS, and, although we face some difficult technical issues and challenges, we don’t see anything stopping us from reaching our goals.”

Gervasi shared the second-day plenary session with Ben van Houtte, Head of Air Transport at the European Commission’s Transport and Energy Directorate-General. Speaking on the EU’s SESAR initiative, aimed at the modernisation of European air traffic control infrastructure, van Houtte said, “A lot of work has been done already, but this is not something we should be doing alone. There are strong economic reasons for saying this – spreading of investment and financial risk – but, more generally, we need to stop thinking about regional and national standards. If there is any industry that is truly global, it is the air transport industry.”

Forging closer ties

Under successive EU Research Framework Programmes, the Union has allowed European and non-European researchers to forge important ties and to increase their collaborative efforts, moving forward on important international aeronautics research initiatives. This trend will continue under FP7, as confirmed by EU Aeronautics Research Head Liam Breslin, who said, “We are now very keen to promote are our co-operative efforts with a wider group of international partners.”

One of the biggest Aeronatics Days draws was the special session on ‘Aeronautics RTD in the Americas’. Addressing a standing-room-only crowd, Mark Goldhammer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes explained his company’s approach, stressing the importance of new technologies for increasing efficiency.

“Boeing is using multi-disciplinary optimisation methods to maximise the benefits of complementary technological advances,” he said. “And we are also introducing new customer support products that will further reduce operational costs.” Goldhammer also summarised work underway to improve environmental compatibility and safety.

EU Aeronautics Research Head Liam Breslin with Russian delegates
EU Aeronautics Research Head Liam Breslin with Russian delegates

Other speakers at the same session included NASA representative Wayne Bryant, Bombardier Aerospace Montreal’s Fassi Kafyeke, and Walter Bertels of the Aerospace Industries Association of Brazil. “Thanks to foreign contributions to our aeronautics capacity and to our cultural open-mindedness, Brazil’s aerospace industry has a propensity to international co-operation,” said Bertels, “and it is now the most capable aerospace industry in the Southern Hemisphere.”

Look to the east

The session on ‘Aeronautics RTD in the Commonwealth of Independent States’, chaired by TsAGI’s Sergey Chernyshev, featured speakers from Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Representing Russian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), Sergey Trofimov and Nikolay Testoyedov stressed the dynamic and innovative capacities of SMEs in high-tech sectors such as aeronautics. Meanwhile, Volodymyr Kryvtsov of Ukraine’s National Aerospace University highlighted the high level of experience gained by his country through collaboration with Russian scientists, demonstrated during the development of the Mig-29 and Su-27 aircraft.

In the session on ‘Aeronautics RTD in Central and East Asia’, Kimio Sakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploitation Agency (JAXA) presented an overview of his agency’s long-term RTD vision. Jingsheng Li of the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment reported on RTD activities being undertaken by the Chinese aeronautics company AVIC I, and Pavel Kozlenko of RSE Kazaeronav delivered an insightful presentation on aviation activities in Kazakhstan.

EU-Russian co-operation in aeronautics

Increasing Russian involvement in EU Framework Programmes has proven fruitful, and the European Commission is eager to see this trend continue. Russian researchers are now key partners, making major contributions and helping the EU to reach its industrial, political and societal goals. They 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 and Technology Center (ISTC) in Moscow.

And in China

At a meeting in Beijing in April 2005, the EU and China both recognised that strengthening co-operation in research and development is important for the future. In particular, the European aeronautics industry expressed great interest in developing closer links with China on research and development on a win-win basis, using instruments and funding available under the EU’s Research Framework Programme.

Intense interest

Speaking at the conference closing session, Austrian Secretary of State for Transport, Innovation and Technology, Eduard Mainoni, made a point of citing the high level of international participation. “We have seen some exciting presentations and have welcomed participants from Russia, the United States and China,” he said, “and I have been especially impressed with the contributions of the new Member States.”

Speaking on behalf of the new Member States, Krzysztof Jan Kurzydlowski, Under-Secretary of State at the Polish Ministry of Education and Science, said, “Although our industrial base is not as solid as in the established aerospace nations, there is great untapped potential in our academic and research institutions.”