"The new generation of aeroplanes" task force to develop priorities for research projects
On an initiative of Mrs. Cresson, Commissioner for research and development, Mr. Bangemann, Commissioner for industry, telecommunications and information technologies, and Mr. Kinnock, Commissioner for transport, the European Commission has set up six task forces to develop industrial common research projects in order to reinforce European competitiveness. This article examines the task force which focuses on the new generation of aeroplanes: Air traffic is likely to double by 2010. The aerospace industry is preparing itself for this situation, which will necessitate the production of some 15,000 new planes. In this climate, research needs to be geared to improving competitiveness using safe and efficient technologies. The environmental aspects as well as production and operating costs must be taken account of in the context of the necessary industrial development and research. Polluting emissions and noise levels are major concerns. Production and operating costs are major determinants for the competitiveness of the European industry. The European aerospace market is estimated to be worth some ECU 34 billion compared to 83 billion in the US and 7 billion in Japan. Research and development costs in Europe amount to some ECU 4.5 billion per year, compared to 20 billion in the US, of which 65% is supported by the public sector. Several multilateral cooperation schemes exist in Europe. The research programmes funded by the European Union support research projects on traffic improvement and technologies aimed at improving safety and efficiency. A fundamental objective is to reduce the delay between research and entry into service while reducing operating costs. The Fourth Framework Programme allocates ECU 400 million for aerospace research for the period 1994-1998, four times more than the Third Framework Programme. The task force is seeking to identify the main industrial and technological objectives and to improve synergy between efforts at national level and at the European Union level, in particular to identify: - The best way of making use of the possibilities offered by the Fourth Framework Programme; - The best way of exploiting the potential of the aerospace industry for programmes supplementing the Fourth Framework Programme; - Coordinating activities at the European Union level with those at the national level; - Exploring the possibilities of finding wider applications for the products of the defence sector of the industry; - Making recommendations as to priority areas for support under the Fifth Framework Programme; - Developing concrete applications of aerospace technologies for use in the information society. On the basis of the long-term R&D plan drawn up by the industry in 1993, the following research objectives have been identified: - Efficiency of aircraft; - Reduction of manufacturing costs; - Development of more environmentally friendly aircraft; - Aspects of aircraft safety; - Technologies to improve passenger comfort. The task force commenced work at the beginning of March. An industry group has been set up to help the task force. Two meetings have been held to select priorities for activities meeting the research objectives identified. Action programme for the remainder of 1995 and early 1996: - 8 June: meeting with representatives of industry, following the first meeting held on 31 May; - July-October: linking of projects supported by specific programmes; - February 1996: publication of a general report on progress. For details on the five other task forces, please see the relevant record on the RTD-News database (identified by its RCN number): - Multimedia educational software (RCN 4288); - The car of the future (RCN 4289); - Vaccines and virus-based diseases (RCN 4291); - The train of the future (RCN 4292); - Transport intermodality (RCN 4293).