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COmmunity heavy-PAyload Long endurance Instrumented Aircraft for Tropospheric Research in Environmental and Geo-Sciences

Periodic Report Summary 1 - COPAL (COmmunity heavy-PAyload Long endurance Instrumented Aircraft for Tropospheric Research in Environmental and Geo-Sciences)

Project context and objectives:

European Facility for Airborne Research (EUFAR I3) is the network of aircraft operators for research in environmental and geo-science. As part of the EUFAR Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) activity on the future of the fleet, the European Science Foundation (ESF) completed a survey of the scientific demand in 2006. Among the 6 options that were suggested by ESF, the majority of the 203 responses supported as the first priority for the development of the fleet: 'A European medium-altitude / heavy -payload / long-endurance research aircraft, for atmosphere / low-troposphere campaigns (in multi-disciplinary / multi-national settings): a turboprop aircraft (Lockheed C130, Airbus A400M)'.

A proposal was thus submitted to ESFRI for the construction of a pan-European instrumented aircraft for tropospheric research, indicating that two options had to be considered: a Lockheed C130 and an Airbus A400M.

After the selection of the proposal by ESFRI in October 2006, a proposal was submitted to the European Commission (EC) at the first Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) call for Infrastructures in May 2007 for the construction of a heavy-payload and long endurance research aircraft for tropospheric research, indicating that three options were considered: a Lockheed C130 and an Airbus A400M, and a CASA-295.

The EC selected the proposal and the four-year project started on 1 November 2007.

Consortium members

1. Météo-France, Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques (CNRM), FR
2. Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA), ES
3. Finish Meteorological Institute (FMI), FI
4. Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK
5. Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT), PT
6. Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR), IT
7. General Secretariat for Research and Technology (GSRT), EL
8. University of Warsaw, Institute of Geophysics (UW), PL
9. Enviscope GmbH (Enviscope), DE
10. The Meteorological Office (Met.Office) UK
11. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), FR
12. SJ Berwin LLP (SJ BERWIN), UK/BE
13. Deutsches Zentrum Fuer Luft-und Raumfahrt E.V. (DLR), DE

The objectives of the COPAL project, distributed over six work packages (WPs), are:

- to acquire, modify and equip for research a heavy-payload (10 tons) and long endurance (10 hours) aircraft for research in the lower and middle troposphere;
- propose a legal structure for joint management of the COPAL aircraft (WP2);
- quantify the costs for procurement, refurbishing, modification for research, certification, and operation of the COPAL aircraft (WP3);
- designate the aircraft operator and scientific operator of the COPAL aircraft (WP4);
- constitute a network of academic laboratories and small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) for development, maintenance and operation of research instrumentation (WP5);
- define the governance model for access proposals evaluation and allocation of flight time (WP6).

Project results:

Work performed and results achieved since the beginning of the project:

WP1 - Management and coordination (WP leader: CNRM)

- Organisation of meetings
Annual meetings have been organised to gather the COPAL members and discuss the project. The steering committee meeting aims to propose decisions to be approved later by the governing board.
- Communication
In order to further communicate on the project, the office prepared posters and leaflets that have been distributed in research-related events (like conferences, meetings). For instance, COPAL had a stand at the ICARE conference in Toulouse, in October 2010.
- Coordination with EUFAR and international organisations
In order to ensure coordination with EUFAR, EUFAR / COPAL joint meetings are organised for the partners to have an update on each other project and to exchange information. The COPAL office members participate actively to the Preparatory Phase Coordination Committee (ePPCC) and to the Preparatory Phase projects workshops organised by the EC.

WP2 - Legal structure (WP leader: SJ Berwin)

- Second report on legal organisation and governance
Though SJ Berwin advised that the ERIC which could be the best suited legal organization for COPAL, the COPAL partners are not ready to commit to such an integrated legal structure. At the third governing board meeting, the partners agree to set up one legal structure to manage both the future COPAL aircraft and the open access scheme. The model legal structure has yet to be decided in year 4.

Besides the work performed by SJ Berwin, the COPAL office members participated to various meetings on research infrastructures organised by EC.

WP3 - Aircraft specifications and construction costs (WP leader: INTA)

- Aircraft construction costs
One of the main issues of the project is the determination of the costs of the research aircraft. In order to refine the costs, aircraft manufacturers have been asked to provide further quotations. Also, during this year 3, a quotation was received for a new C-130 J.

WP4 - Operation and logistics (WP leader: INTA)

- Second draft reports on aircraft operation and on data management operation has been published. The operators will be recruited when the decision to purchase the aircraft is made.

WP5 - Instrumentation development (WP leader: FMI)

- Surveys and reports on the following:

i. Inventory of existing airborne instruments
A questionnaire was prepared in year 1 for the instrument operators to express their interest in contributing to the COPAL aircraft instrumentation and to indicate what the conditions would be for access to these instruments. The COPAL partners distributed the questionnaire to their local network of scientific operators of instrumentation, in year 2. In total, 80 measurement systems have been proposed. The partners considered in year 3 that the work performed by FMI was sufficient for the moment.
ii. SMEs and laboratories to be involved in instrument development
The aim of this task is to survey the SMEs and laboratories which could contribute with their instruments or know-how to COPAL. A questionnaire was sent by the COPAL members to their national network and resulted in fourteen answers. In year 3, no new answers have been received.

WP6 - Scientific governance (WP leader: NERC)

- Final report for a COPAL model for evaluation of access proposals and allocation processes

In year 2, the document describing the evaluation criteria was distributed to the partners for approval. In year 3, the part describing how national procedures will interact with the COPAL one has been presented in a very complete report (D6.2.2).

Potential impact:

COPAL preparatory phase (PP)

During the PP (end on 31 October 2011), surveys and studies have been performed to evaluate the technical feasibility and the costs of the aircraft project.

After the PP, there will be a transition phase with an interim legal structure to be signed before the end of the PP. The interim legal structure will have two main objects:

- to pursue the objectives of the COPAL PP;
- to implement open access to demonstrate and prepare for the efficient operation of the COPAL aircraft.

What is open access ?

All researchers would get access on equal terms to a large fleet of instrumented aircraft irrespective of their institutional affiliation and of which country operates the aircraft. Equal terms means that access proposals are selected based on scientific merit only and that financial issues related to the aircraft operation are managed at the institutional level.

Benefits of the open access scheme:

- to develop the user base in the countries with no research aircraft;
- to facilitate the transfer of knowledge to the scientists from these countries.

Contact details

COPAL Coordinator:
Dr Jean-Louis Brenguier
Tel: +33-561-079321

COPAL Manager:
Ms Nadège Nankou
Tel: +33-561-079880

COPAL Office:
Meteo-France/ CNRM/GMEI
42, avenue Gaspard Coriolis
31057 Toulouse Cedex 1
Fax: +33-561-079848

Project website:

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