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European aeronautics science network - phase ii

Final Report Summary - EASN II (European aeronautics science network - phase II)

The project EASN II emphasised on facing the fragmentation, effort multiplication and high scatter in academia research activities by further developing the established thematic and regional network structures of the European aeronautics universities in terms of representativity and performance and upgrading them into incubator mechanisms for developing new knowledge, innovative concepts and breakthrough technologies in aeronautics.

To achieve a successful exploitation of these mechanisms existing links with the industry were used and further strengthened. The network structures were also exploited to facilitate and foster the mobility of researchers in Europe. Specific attention was paid to the integration of the universities of the New Member States and regions which are less developed in aeronautics as well as to the co-operation with countries outside the European Union. The above mentioned EASN II structures are expected to provide the starting point for the establishment of a permanent and self-funded university association for aeronautical research.

The air transport industry is one of the pillars of Europe's economy and is vitally important to many regions throughout Europe. More than 3 million jobs depend directly or indirectly on it and set to rise to 5-7 million by 2020. The air transport industry makes a massive contribution to the prosperity of Europe, both in terms of a globally competitive manufacturing sector and also in terms of providing transfer of people and goods within Europe and globally.

Competitiveness and a sustainable growth of this highly technological industry, relies heavily on developing superior knowledge and applying technological innovation. In this context, universities have a key role in the chain of the aeronautics stakeholders. Scientific development at universities, from the production of new knowledge, through to the development of innovative concepts and breakthrough technologies, are crucial for the success of the industry. Critical is also to provide top level scientific and technological education and training for the employees of the aeronautics industries.

Yet, although the European universities have succeeded to provide top level aeronautics education, a series of barriers impede universities fulfilling their indispensable role in the aeronautics research chain at a level which would better reflect the importance and excellence of research work carried out by the European universities. Fragmentation, inefficient communication mechanisms, lack of incubator mechanisms for developing new knowledge and technological innovation, lack of a common university research strategy for the sector of aeronautics, lack of a collective university voice in aeronautics research related issues are the main obstacles to this target.

The European Aeronautics Science Network (EASN), which has been established through an accompanying measure project, funded in the frame of the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) of the European Union succeeded to develop a sound base for regional as well as scientific / technological university network structures thus providing an essential instrument for facing the drawbacks mentioned above. For developing the regional EASN structure, Europe has been divided into five geographical regions with one university in each region serving as the regional contact point. The thematic structure of EASN in technological and scientific areas has been conceived following the ASTERA / ACARE taxonomy such as to cover all the technological areas related to aeronautics. The network is currently acting as point of contact between more than 600 university professors representing more than 200 university institutes from 23 European countries, including the New Member States, as well as between them and the European aeronautics industry, the associations of the SMEs, the research establishments and the European Commission. Yet, despite of the essential progress achieved for developing the mentioned university network structures, appreciable effort is still needed to increase representativity, in particularly with regard to the New Member States, as well as performance of the developed structures.

EASN II served as a collective voice for the European universities in research related issues. The number of EASN members increased to about 250 university institutes with over 9 000 individual members. The existence of a collective university voice and representation in aeronautics research related issues was expected to appreciably facilitate the links between the European universities and the European Commission, the European Parliament and the other stakeholders in aeronautics, i.e. the industrial, SMEs and research estabIishment's associations and also support realising ACARE's goals. EASN II is expected to provide the missing infrastructure for making the contribution of the European aeronautics universities to the realisation of the European Research Area (ERA) efficient and manageable.

The EASN website (please see online) has been redesigned so as to facilitate constant updating by the regional contact points as well as provide useful information regarding aeronautics research and the EASN activities. Furthermore, through the EASN webpage, applications for EASN membership and for the formation of new interest groups can be made online. Five partners from France, United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, and Greece, having significant expertise in European research in the field of aeronautics along with 10 high level universities, which will serve as the coordinators of the thematic EASN structure bring their know-how and capabilities in EASN Phase II together, thus providing confidence for achieving the EASN II goals.

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