Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

To identify the main industrial and technological objectives of research in the European aerospace sector and to improve synergy between efforts at national level and at the European Union level.


The task force on the new generation of aeroplanes is one of several established on the initiative of Commissioners Cresson (Research, education and training), Bangemann (Industry, telecommunications and information technologies) and Kinnock (Transport) for the purpose of developing priorities for research projects of common industrial interest. The task forces are focused on clearly defined areas and are aimed at, firstly, identifying, and then coordinating, the research efforts being made in each area (at both private and public level) in the individual Member States and within the framework of relevant European Union programmes, particularly research carried out under the Fourth RTD Framework Programme.

The rationale behind the task forces is to redress the current situation where only 13% of public research budgets are allocated to research projects involving European cooperation, as opposed to 87% for strictly national research. Greater coordination between the Member States' research activities is necessary to reduce expensive and wasteful duplication of effort and will, ultimately, improve Europe's industrial competitiveness in the global economy. The first task forces were set up in early 1995 and cover six areas: multimedia educational software; the car of the future; the new generation of aeroplanes; vaccines and virus-based diseases; the train of the future; and transport intermodality. The list is open-ended and new task forces may be established in the future. These may cover such issues as clean technologies, information society applications, construction materials, the maritime industry, etc.

The task force on the new generation of aeroplanes has been established in the context of the likely two-fold increase in the volume of air traffic by the year 2010 and the attendant research which will be necessary to improve the competitiveness of the European aerospace industry by using safe and efficient technologies. The necessary industrial development and research needs to emphasize environmental aspects as well as production and operating costs, in light of the major concern of polluting emissions and noise levels.

The task force will seek to build on and expand the several multiannual cooperation schemes which already exist at European level. Research activities currently funded by the European Union support RTD projects on traffic improvement and technologies aimed at improving safety and efficiency; the overriding objective, at all times, is the speedy application of research results and the reduction of operating costs. For the period 1994-1998, a sum of ECU 400 million has been allocated under the Fourth Framework Programme for aerospace research; this represents a four-fold increase on the funds earmarked for research in the sector under the Third Framework Programme.

Against this background, the task force is to seek to identify the main industrial and technological objectives of research in the aerospace sector and to improve synergy between efforts at national and European levels, in order 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 by programmes supplementing the Fourth Framework programme;
- Coordination of activities at the European Union and national levels;
- Exploring the possibilities of finding wider applications for the products in the defence sector of the aerospace industry;
- Making recommendations as to priority areas for support under the Fifth Framework Programme;
- Developing concrete applications of aerospace applications for use in the information society.

On the basis of the long-term R&D plan drawn up by the aerospace industry in 1993, the following research objectives have already been identified: efficiency of aircraft; reduction of manufacturing costs; development of environmentally friendly aircraft; aspects of aircraft safety; and technologies to improve passenger comfort.

The process of selecting projects which meet these objectives has already begun and will then proceed with the linking of relevant projects supported by the specific programmes under the Fourth Framework Programme. A general progress report is scheduled to be published in early 1996.


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As a first step, the task forces are responsible for assessing the situation in their specific domain, preparing an inventory of actual research efforts and defining priorities for research following intensive consultations with industry and users. On the basis of this analysis, a scheme for combining priority projects with the relevant specific programmes under the Fourth Framework Programme will be drawn up.

At present, the task forces do not, themselves, manage or fund projects; they will, nonetheless, be able to influence the content of the remaining calls for proposals under the Fourth Framework Programme and the structure and content of the Fifth Framework Programme.

Eventually, the task forces could make use of various provisions contained in the R&D title of the Treaty on European Union: Article 130k which authorizes the establishment of supplementary R&D programmes involving the participation of certain Member States only, Article 130l which provides for Community participation in R&D programmes undertaken by several Member States or Article 130n which permits the Community to establish joint undertakings for research purposes.
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