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Environmental Compatible Air Transport System


The January 2001 report ‘European Aeronautics: A Vision for 2020’, set the goal for Europe to become the uncontested world leader in the field of aeronautics by 2020. Reducing the environmental impact of air transport, with regard to emissions and noise, is a key element in achieving this goal. To facilitate the timely achievement of this goal a common framework for research and technological development, based upon a coordinated collaborative effort, is a pre-requisite. ECATS will develop a robust research framework and deliver outputs that focus on the environmental competitiveness and sustainability of the air transportation system concerning emissions.

Project objectives

The ECATS Network of Excellence (NoE) comprises a number of leading research establishments and universities and will provide the basis for a durable and long lasting means of co-operation in the field of aeronautics and the environment. The overall goals of ECATS are to create a European Virtual Institute for research on environmentally compatible air transport; to develop and maintain durable means for co-operation and communication within Europe and to strengthen Europe’s excellence and its influential role in the international community.

The Joint Research Programme will address engine technology, alternative fuels, the impact of aviation on air quality, operational aspects of aviation and the development of alternative scenarios. Lasting integration will be achieved by joint decision-making processes and joint management and working structures, and will be supported through specific integration activities including a common web-based information and communication system, common education, training and exchange programmes, coordinated use of facilities and equipment, dissemination and joint management of innovation.

Description of the work

In the integrating activities, the ECATS Network will create a common level of knowledge on expertise and resources within the partnership by gathering and assessing information on existing research programmes, knowledge, equipment, facilities and infrastructure within the ECATS consortium. A Network Office will play a central role in the structure of the Network and serve as point of contact for communication. Within the NoE, efficient use of existing infrastructure will be managed, any lack of facilities will be identified, and duplication of resources and facilities will be minimised. A critical function of ECATS will be to identify the research landscape required to address the impact of aviation emissions on the environment. It will also assess its collective strengths and weaknesses, and its ability to meet the research objectives. This assessment, or gap analysis, will identify where work is required and will be used to identify the needs of the virtual centre. Needs may be identified in a number of areas and may be of various types, for example tool requirements, infrastructure requirements, skill deficiencies, etc. Mobility of researchers and the exchange of knowledge and experience between partners will be fostered and facilitated.

Joint research will be carried out in the capability enhancement and research initiatives activities. Three key thematic areas are (1) initial pollutant formation in engines and the subsequent chemical and physical transformation of constituents through the engine in the engine plume, (2) local and regional air quality, and (3) environmentally sustainable air traffic management and air traffic scenarios.

For spreading of excellence, the ECATS Network will utilise information and share it with external communities of aviation, atmospheric science and industry. Education and training of research staff will be a critical function of ECATS and this will be addressed through the development of common PhD programmes, summer schools and in the longer-term MSc programmes. The education and training of ECATS partners will also be supported through workshops and seminar activities. Linkages to other projects within national and EU programmes and organisations, which have interests that are aviation-environment related, will be established and managed through interface management. ECATS will disseminate research and scientific deliverables to both the scientific community and the general public.

Expected results

ECATS will integrate competences across three thematic areas: emissions and fuel, airport air quality, and green flight scenarios. There are two fundamental deliverables of ECATS:

1) the development of a durable Network of Excellence which has a common vision and understanding of the needs of the aviation industry

2) the development of an integrated and efficient skills and resource base to support Vision 2020.

These high-level deliverables are underpinned by a raft of others including common training and education programmes.