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About aeronautics and air transport

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New concepts and breakthrough technologies will be needed to bring a new age of air flight. Air transport demand is predicted to double in the next 10 - 15 years and triple in 20 years time. This offers a significant opportunity for Europe, but also major challenges with regard to environmental effects, safety, security and affordability and increasing the capacity of our air transport system through improved air-traffic management.


Funding priorities for research projects will focus on:

The 'greening' of air transport

The greening of air transport means developing technologies to reduce the environmental impact of aviation with the aim of halving the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by air transport, cutting specific emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 80% and halving perceived noise. The targets reflect the Ultra Green High Level Target Concepts developed by the Advisory Council for Aeronautical Research in Europe (ACARE) in its strategic research agenda. Reducing soot, water vapour and particulates emissions will also be tackled.

The research will address green engine technologies, alternative fuels, novel aircraft/ engine configurations, intelligent low-weight structures, improved aerodynamic efficiency, airport operations and air traffic management as well as manufacturing and recycling processes.

The 'Clean Sky' Joint Technology Initiative will bring together European R&D stakeholders to develop 'green' air vehicle design, engines and systems aimed at minimising the environmental impact of future air transport systems.

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Increasing time efficiency

Accommodating the projected increase in aircraft movements means improving punctuality in all weather conditions and reducing the time spent on airport procedures. Research will develop and implement an innovative Air Traffic Management (ATM) system, within the context of the Single European Sky Air traffic research System (SESAR) initiative, by integrating air, ground and space components, together with flow management and more aircraft autonomy to give a flexible and more automated system.

This research theme corresponds to the Highly Time-Efficient High Level Target Concept in ACARE's research agenda. It aims to produce a significant reduction in journey time through maintaining flight times within schedule and minimising the time that passengers have to spend in airports whilst travelling.

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Customer satisfaction and safety

Improving air transport safety and security means ensuring that irrespective of the growth of air traffic, there will be fewer accidents and aircraft will be more secure against hostile actions.

Under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), research will seek to attain quantum leap in passenger choice and schedule flexibility, while achieving a five-fold reduction in accident rate. New technologies will enable a wider choice of aircraft/ engine configurations ranging from very large, wide-body airliners, medium size craft, business jets, tilt-rotor aircraft to personal small-size vehicles with the highest levels of safety as well as comfort, health conditions and services. Research will include the adaptation of airport and air traffic operations to 24-hour utilisation ay acceptable community noise levels.

This theme relates to the 'Highly Customer-Orientated High Level Target Concept' of ACARE's Strategic Research Agenda, in particular focusing on the safety objective.

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Improving cost efficiency

Fostering a competitive supply chain able to halve the time-to-market, and reduce product development and operational costs, will result in more affordable transport for all citizens. Research will focus on improvements to the whole business process from conceptual design to product development, manufacturing and in-service operations, including the integration of the supply chain. This theme embraces all the costs arising in the design and operation of the whole air system and mirrors the Highly Cost Efficient High Level Target in ACARE's Strategic Research Agenda. It will address the tools and technologies required to enhance the whole enterprise process. It will include both the developments needed to deliver zero-maintenance aircraft, as well as 'lean' airport, aircraft and air traffic management operations to give a substantial reduction in operating costs.

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Protection of aircraft and passengers

Research will be aimed at enhancing protection measures including preventing hostile action and aircraft misuse. Topics will include security measures in the cabin and cockpit designs and automatic control, as well as security aspects of airspace management and airport operations.

The aim is to make a successful attack of any kind on an aircraft causing injury, loss, damage or disruption to travellers or other citizens impossible. This research theme will address aircraft security systems including cockpit and cabin monitoring and protection, as well as controlled aircraft operation and landing from the ground, secured airspace management and communication networks, as well as airport security systems. Protection of aircraft and passengers is paramount and the systems will include improved data and identification methods, auto recovery and improved security design of aircraft. The theme corresponds to ACARE's Ultra Secure Air Transport System High Level Target Concept.

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Air transport of the future

Europe's ambitions in future aeronautics were described in the 'Vision 2020' report and the EU's Transport White Paper which form the basis of ACARE's Strategic Research Agenda. This research theme stretches the Vision 2020 horizon to explore and pioneer the more radical, revolutionary, environmentally efficient and innovative technologies that might configure the step changes required in the air transport of the second half of this century.

Research will address aspects such as new propulsion and lifting concepts, new forms of guidance and control, new ideas for the interior space of airborne vehicles, new airport concepts - including the concept of off-shore air stations, alternative concepts of air transport system operation - including personal transport systems and the use of urban-space, and its integration with other transport modes.

This area will pioneer the air transport of the future addressing the longer term challenges of aviation with accessible and innovative combinations of technologies which will lead to significant steps forward in air transport.

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Last updated on: 2012-04-26