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Aeronautics and Space: thematic priority 4 under the Focusing and Integrating Community Research programme 2002-2006.

This Priority 4 thematic area falls under the Focusing and Integrating Community Research programme of the Sixth Research Framework Programme 2002-2006 (FP6). The priority thematic areas represent the bulk of expenditure under FP6. The intention is to focus Community research efforts to generate a substantial leveraging effect which, together with actions in other parts of FP6 and through open co-ordination with other regional, national, European and international frameworks, will result in a coherent and highly effective common endeavour.
Over the last decades, Europe's outstanding technological and industrial capabilities in aeronautics and the exploitation of space have made important contributions to the standard of living and economic development and growth. Excellence in aeronautics and space can contribute to the creation of highly skilled jobs, to improving the trade balance and to the competitiveness of other related economic sectors.

Although aeronautics and space are distinct domains, they share common features. They are both very R&D intensive with long development lead-times and very large investment requirements.

Fierce competition, strategic significance, and increasingly severe environmental constraints make it necessary for the EU to boost its technological excellence by consolidating and concentrating its RTD efforts.

Aeronautics research is planned against a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) agreed by all stakeholders at European level in the context of the new Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe, which is also the planning base for national programmes.

The result will be better complementarity and co-operation between the national and Community efforts in this field. The European Strategy for Space serves as a reference in planning space research, with the objective of gathering key players on projects of common interest. Close liaison will be ensured with RTD activities carried out by other actors, such as space agencies, Eurocontrol and industry. Furthermore, the application of relevant Treaty articles will be explored to support, as appropriate, these initiatives.
The Aeronautics and Space thematic priority 4 aims to intergrate the EU's research efforts, thereby consolidating the position of the European aeronautics and space industry vis-à-vis increasingly strong global competition. Moreover, it aims to exploit the research potential in the Member States, candidate countries and other associated countries in this sector with a view to improving safety and environmental protection.
The Community activities carried out under Information Society Technologies cover the following areas:

_ Aeronautics

In their report "Vision 2020", leaders of the European aeronautics sector highlighted the need to optimise EU and national research efforts around a common vision and a strategic research agenda. Following this approach, research will concentrate on four main strands. The scope of the research action spans commercial transport aircraft including systems and components, as well as the on-board and ground-based elements of air-traffic management systems.

- Strengthening competitiveness to enable the 3 sectors of the manufacturing industry: airframe, engines and equipment, to increase their competitiveness, by reducing aircraft development and direct operating costs and improving passenger comfort. Research will focus on: integrated design systems and processes for the realisation of the extended multi-site enterprise concept, as well as for more intelligent production technologies; new aircraft configurations, advanced aerodynamics, materials and structures, engine technologies; mechanical, electrical and hydraulic systems; improved cabin-environmental conditions and utilisation of multimedia services to improve passenger comfort.

- Improving environmental impact with regard to engine emissions and noise.

On emissions, the objective is to meet Kyoto goals and to compensate for the increase in future air traffic by reducing fuel consumption and CO2 and NOx emissions. Research in this area focuses on low-emission combustion and propulsion concepts, engine technologies and related control systems, low-drag aerodynamic concepts, low-weight airframe structures and high temperature materials, as well as improved flight operational procedures.

On noise, the aim is to limit the noise nuisance outside the airport boundaries, the target is to reduce noise levels by 4-5 dB in the short term and 10 dB in the long term. Research in this area focuses on: engine and power-plant technologies, aeroacoustics for airframe noise reduction, advanced noise-control systems as well as novel flight operational procedures in the vicinity of airports.

- Improving aircraft safety to obtain a two-fold reduction in accident rates in the short-term, and a five-fold reduction in the long term, in order to compensate for the growth in air transport movements. Concerning preventive safety, research will focus on: investigation of systemic safety models, improved fault-tolerant systems and human-centred cockpit design enabling a controllable situation awareness for the crew. Research on accident mitigation focuses on improved materials and structures as well as advanced safety systems.

- Increasing operational capacity and safety of the air transport system to optimise airspace and airport utilisation, and consequently reduce flight delays, through a seamlessly integrated European air traffic management system, which would facilitate the achievement of the "Single European-Sky" initiative. Research focuses on on-board and ground automation aids, communication, navigation and surveillance systems as well as flight operation procedures that enable the introduction of new concepts including the free-flight concept in the future European ATM system.

_ Space

The aim is to contribute to the implementation of the European Strategy for Space, particularly by targeting and focusing efforts with ESA and Member States on a small number of joint actions of common interest. A special emphasis is put on activities complementing those of space agencies (integration of terrestrial and space systems/services and demonstration of end-to end services). This includes the following activity areas:

- GALILEO: the European Satellite Navigation system GALILEO, developed by the Joint Undertaking in close co-operation with the European Space Agency, is scheduled to be fully operational by 2008. The availability of precise navigation and timing services will have profound impacts in many domains. It is important to build the necessary expertise and knowledge in Europe in order to exploit this emerging technology in the most efficient way. Research focuses on: development of multisectorial concepts, systems and tools, user equipment including receivers which rely on precise navigation and timing service provision; spreading of high level, coherent and seamless quality services in all environments (cities, indoors and outdoors, land, sea, air, etc.), in synergy with other service provisions (telecommunication, surveillance, observation, etc.).

- GMES: The aim is to stimulate the evolution of satellite-based information services by developing technologies to bridge the gap between supply and demand, and to build up a European capability in the field of monitoring for environment and security. Research focuses on: sensors, data and information models, as well as prototypes of operational services responding to specific types of demand (for example global environment, land-use, desertification, disaster management). Research, including data acquisition, assembly and qualification of models combining spatial and terrestrial data in an integrated operational information system, will use existing satellite data, for example provided by Envisat, future EarthWatch projects and other systems.

- Satellite telecommunications: Satellite communications should be integrated with the wider area of telecommunications systems, especially with terrestrial systems.

The research activities carried out within this thematic priority area will include exploratory state of the art research on subjects closely related to one or more topics within it. Two complementary approaches are used: one receptive and open, the other proactive.
The Commission is responsible for the implementation of the specific programme by drawing up a work programme for the implementation of the specific programme, setting out in greater detail the objectives and scientific and technological priorities and the timetable for implementation. The work programme takes account of relevant research activities carried out by the Member States, Associated States and European and international organizations and shall be updated where appropriate.

The Commission is assisted by a committee. The Commission publishes regular reports on the overall progress of the implementation of the specific programme, including information on financial aspects and the use of the instruments. The Commission shall arrange for the independent monitoring and assessment of the framework programme to be conducted concerning the activities carried out in the fields covered by the specific programme.

The new instruments of FP6 (Networks of Excellence and Integrated Projects) are used in each thematic priority area,, where appropriate as a priority means, while maintaining the use of specific targeted projects and coordination actions. In addition to research and technological development, they may incorporate the following types of activity, where they are of specific relevance to the objectives sought:
- Demonstration, dissemination and exploitation;
- Cooperation with researchers and research teams from third countries;
- Human resource development, including the promotion of training of researchers; development of research facilities and infrastructure of specific relevance to the research being undertaken; and promotion of better links between science and society, including women in science.

Specific targeted research projects and coordination actions, as well as specific support actions, may also be used in the spirit of the 'stairway of excellence' in the implementation of the thematic priorities. However, the size of projects is not a criterion for exclusion, and access to new instruments is ensured for SMEs and other small entities.

In certain cases, when a project receives the maximum level of co-financing authorised under the Framework Programme or an overall grant, an additional contribution from the Structural Funds may be granted. In the case of participation of entities from associated candidate countries, an additional contribution from pre-accession financial instruments may be granted under similar conditions. In the case of participation of organisations from Mediterranean or developing countries, a contribution of the MEDA programme and of the financial instruments of the Community's aid to development may be envisaged.

In carrying out the programme, the Commission may have recourse to technical assistance. In 2004, an evaluation will be undertaken by independent experts of the efficiency of each of the three types of new instruments (Networks of Excellence, Integrated Projects and Article 185) in the execution of the Sixth Framework Programme.

During the implementation of this programme and in the research activities arising from it, fundamental ethical principles are to be respected. These include the principles reflected in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,, including the protection of human dignity and life, protection of personal data and privacy, as well as protection of animals and the environment in accordance with Community law, relevant international conventions and codes of conduct. Account will also be taken to the opinions of the European Group of Advisers on the Ethical Implications of Biotechnology (1991-1997) and the opinions of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New technologies (since 1998).