European research on green aerospace technologies boosted by new action roadmap and Clean Sky extension
Fri 28 Sept 2012 – A far-reaching research and innovation roadmap setting out the actions that will be required to meet the demands of European air transport by the middle of the century has been launched. Described as the beginning of a new era for aerospace research in Europe, the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) will guide the future direction of public and private research towards the achievement of the ‘Flightpath 2050’ vision that addresses the challenges of meeting a sustainable and world-leading air transport system. One of the five key challenges identified is protecting the environment and the energy supply, and how to deliver the ambitious targets set under the ACARE 2050 vision for reducing CO2 and NOx emissions and perceived aircraft noise. Fourteen leading aerospace industry and research organisations have also signed an agreement that will see the EU Clean Sky programme extended until 2020.
The SRIA roadmap has being developed by the Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe (ACARE), a forum of aviation stakeholders that includes the European Commission, EU member states, industry and research institutions. ACARE was first formed in 2001 and emissions and noise targets for 2020 were subsequently set for new aircraft and engines. These were then updated into longer term targets and fed into the Flightpath 2050 vision published in March 2011.
The goals call for a per passenger kilometre reduction of 75% in CO2 and 90% in NOx, along with a reduction of 65% in noise, by 2050 relative to 2000. These goals, says the SRIA, are “profoundly” ambitious and will only be met if better methods and processes are implemented to facilitate the search for new solutions. “More efficient aircraft and engines will need to be developed and integrated in radical new configurations to improve fuel efficiency and address climate change,” it states.
Also required will be better operational and flight management procedures and improved maintenance technologies to help prevent degradation of fuel efficiency in ageing aircraft. It also calls for aircraft to be designed and manufactured so that they are recyclable, the establishment of Europe as a centre of excellence on sustainable alternative fuels and energy sources, and that Europe should be in the forefront of atmospheric research, for example in the understanding of the aviation non-CO2 effects on climate change. Incentives and regulations to create the right framework to promote environmentally friendly behaviour throughout the whole aircraft design, development, operational and end-of-life process will also be needed to help achieve the goals, it says.
As well as providing guidance on the research and innovation actions needed to deliver the ‘Flightpath 2050’ goals, the SRIA also sets out policy directions for European aviation companies to sustain a worldwide competitive position and it will also guide and support future actions in public and private funding programmes.
The SRIA was formally launched by the Chairman of ACARE and EADS CEO, Tom Enders, at the recent ILA Berlin Air Show and will be further promoted throughout Europe at seven high-level events, starting with a presentation to the EU Parliament next week. This is being coordinated through the Aera-Pro short-term project that is supported by the European Commission through its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to promote and raise the profile of EU aeronautical research on a global scale.
Also announced at ILA was the signing of a letter of intent agreement by European aerospace industry and research partners to extend the Clean Sky research programme and will focus on the ACARE 2050 emissions and noise reduction targets. Clean Sky 2 will become incorporated into the European ‘Horizon 2020’ programme, which succeeds FP7 when it ends at the end of 2013, and the industry is expected to invest a total of €3.6 billion ($4.6bn) jointly with the European Commission on air transport research. It aims to take the industry’s collaborative research to a next level to prepare for a new wave of technologies.
Commenting on the programme’s extension, Charles Champion, Chairman of the Clean Sky governing board and Executive Vice President Engineering at Airbus, said: “This will contribute new environmentally-friendly technologies and also reinforce the competitiveness of Europe’s aeronautics sector. Together with other major European aerospace companies in Clean Sky 2, Airbus will radically improve air transport’s environmental impact through step change technologies and solutions to further reduce fuel consumption, emissions and noise.”
Also funded through FP7 is the Clean Aerospace Regions (CARE) project that aims to identify and coordinate further European research and development on green air transport technologies. The three-year, €2.2 million ($2.8m) project started in January and comprises a consortium of 10 aeronautics research-oriented regional clusters made up of large and small enterprises, research centres and local government authorities.
The three-phase project is currently looking to deliver by June 2013 – the midway point – a joint action plan (JAP) to regional and European authorities that will advise on and select key areas to focus research and funding. CARE is looking to build a database of 300 R&D players from European research-driven clusters and is identifying areas of common interest for transnational cooperation between clusters and sources of funding to implement the JAP.
Members of the consortium include Aerospace Valley in south-west France, which is coordinating the project, and BavAIRia and Hamburg Aviation from Germany. It also includes the ESAC aeronautical cluster located in Turkey.
The project will concentrate on areas covering more energy efficient aircraft and engines, improving the environmental life-cycle impact of aircraft structures and manufacturing, greener air traffic management and the integration of air travel into multimodal transport systems.