Just as the Kyoto Protocol enters into force on 16 February, requiring developed countries to reduce their CO2 emissions and prioritise the environment, a new Integrated Project (IP) is looking into making flying more environmentally friendly. Since aero-engines have been identified as the main contributor to gaseous and noise emissions, the new VITAL (Environmentally Friendly Aero Engine) project aims to significantly reduce noise, fuel use and polluting emissions from aircraft. This aim falls within the ambition of the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE), which has set two goals for 2020: cutting in half both perceived aircraft noise (a reduction of ten dB) and CO2 emissions. 'It is not the aim of VITAL to meet ACARE's noise and CO2 emission reduction objectives all by itself,' says Valérie Guénon, head of Research and Technology (R&T) European affairs for Snecma, one of the project partners. 'This programme is tasked with achieving the technological breakthrough needed to move progress to a higher plane. In conjunction with similar European research programmes like SILENCE(R) or EEFAE this will bring us within reach of our goal,' she adds. The European Commission is providing 50 million euro to VITAL, a four year project funded under the Sixth Framework Programme (FP6), which brings together 53 partners, including the eight major European engine manufacturers. As Snecma explains, VITAL works along the same lines and complements two EU projects funded under FP5, SILENCE(R) and EEFAE (Efficient, Environmentally friendly Aero-Engine). SILENCE(R) aims to develop and evaluate some 20 noise reduction technologies while EEFAE is designed to decrease CO2 and NOx emissions using new engine core technologies. 'By combining its results with those of the two other programmes, by 2008 VITAL should be able to validate technologies enabling an eight dB decrease in noise and an 18 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions,' states Snecma. The general goal of the programme is to meet the challenge facing aircraft engine manufacturers, namely, producing a quieter engine that is technically and economically viable. VITAL will develop technologies for the low-pressure section of the engine. The partners will focus on the two main sources of engine noise: jet noise, caused by the speed of the exhaust gases, and fan noise. They will evaluate new engine designs, including counter-rotating fans, lightened fans, highly-loaded turbines and turbines with fewer blades, as well as more specific enabling technologies. The weight reduction will enable the development of very high bypass ratio engines that reduce noise by six dB, while also decreasing CO2 emissions by seven per cent compared to engines being operated in 2000. Each component will be validated along the programme by large-scale aeroacoustic and mechanical rig tests. 'The VITAL programme is organised in seven major technical sub-projects, each including activities under the direction of the different partners,' explains Jean-Jacques Korsia, R&T programme manager for Snecma Motors. 'The aim is to achieve a very high bypass ratio engine that can meet the noise and specific fuel consumption goals on ACARE without the penalties of drag and weight normally associated with low specific thrust engine,' he concluded.