Over 2.2 billion people travel by plane annually and the number is rising each year. But air travel's growth brings increasing concern over the environmental footprint created by the sector. The EU has set very ambitious goals to improve the sector's sustainability by 2020 — to cut nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 80 %, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 50 % and noise by 50 %. It is clear that breakthrough technologies are needed to herald a new era of greener flying, and these require considerable resources in research. The EU-funded 'Greener aeronautics international networking' (GRAIN) initiative gathered 30 experts from China and the EU to develop new simulation, modelling and testing techniques. These will cover the key areas that affect the environmental impact of aircraft: engine emissions, drag reduction, noise reduction and construction material. Within these broad areas, GRAIN has defined a number of projects looking at specific problems. It has also identified how research institutes can collaborate to pool their resources and expertise, especially in high-performance computing environments. These efforts are being taken forward in long-term cooperation efforts. The aeronautics sector needs to introduce radically different technologies to improve its sustainability. Large-scale international collaboration efforts such as GRAIN are a quick and efficient way to stimulate the required innovation.
GReener Aeronautics International Networking
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7 January 2021