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EUFAR Informe resumido

Project ID: 506514
Financiado con arreglo a: FP6-INFRASTRUCTURES
País: France

Final Report Summary - EUFAR (European flett for airborne research in the field of environment and geo-sciences)

The objectives of the 'European Fleet for Airborne Research' (EUFAR I3 ) project were to:
- co-ordinate the network of research aircraft for exchanging knowledge, sharing developments, and building the unified structure that is required for improving access to the infrastructures;
- provide users with Transnational Access (TA) to the infrastructures;
- extend TA to national funding sources, also referred to as Extended TA;
- promote airborne research in the academic community;
- develop research activities in airborne instrumentation.

To reach these objectives, EUFAR implemented:
Networking activities:
- ESF Scientific Advisory Committee (N1ESF-SAC), constituted of independent eminent scientists, to supervise the activities of the EUFAR I3,
- Transnational Access Coordination (N2TAC) to provide a unified management structure for all EUFAR TA activities,
- Future of the Fleet (N3FF) to provide technical solutions for extending TA beyond EU support, and elaborate on possible enhancements of the fleet,
- Expert Working Groups (N4EWG) which exchanged knowledge and promoted best practice and investment in airborne instrumentation,
- Education & Training (N5ET) to promote airborne research in the academic community.
- E-Communication (N6EC) to elaborate efficient solutions for the dissemination of the information and the evaluations of TA applications.
Transnational Access Activities:
To provide access to 24 instrumented aircraft, including scientific and engineering support for integration of instruments, planning of field campaigns, and data analysis.
Joint Research Activities:
To design and construct an Aerosol Reference Pod that could be flown on several aircraft and serve as a reference standard for inter-calibration of airborne aerosol instrumentation.

The N1-ESF-SAC activity has not been fully completed because the ESF Forum with national research funding institutions has not been organised. The main impact is on the EUFAR long term objective to open all research infrastructures to European researchers at equal terms, irrespective of their origin. The main obstacle was that EUFAR follows a bottom-up approach, while access to nationally funded infrastructures is a top-down decision. This failure has been analysed and in FP7, a different approach will be undertaken, under the leadership of the coordinator, relying on the Commission plans for Joint Programming and the possibility for some of the main airborne infrastructures to offer additional opportunities of Transnational Access beyond EU support.

The N2-TAC networking activity has been very successful. An efficient on line procedure has been developed for the evaluation of the TA proposals and a new approach for the joint management of EU TA allocation has been implemented. Thanks to this efficient coordination of Transnational Access, the objectives of the contract have been reached in terms of access units and they have been exceeded in terms of number of users.

The N3-FF activity has been very successful, especially considering that the plans had to be revised for EUFAR to adapt to the ESFRI roadmap agenda. The EUFAR initiative has been selected and funded by the European Commission for a Preparatory Phase, and the data bases on aircraft activities and their scientific impact have been constituted and regularly updated. These databases are very useful for the pan-European approach on infrastructure development.

Most of the EUFAR experts have been very active, although all scientific fields have not been covered. The expert reports however are disparate and only one has been published. Moreover, it is slightly disappointing that only two JRA proposals came from EWG activities in the preparation of the EUFAR FP7 follow-up proposal (only one was finally selected). This led the EWG to revise their objectives and to move in the follow-up contract to more ambitious plans with the publication of a handbook on airborne measurements.

The consortium has explored various approaches in Education & Training. The initial plans were appropriate but limited to a small number of beneficiaries. The organisation of training courses during the last two years of the project provided the opportunity to train a much larger number of students.

A pod with instrumentation for aerosol microphysics has been built and tested in flight. The second pod has been further equipped with instrumentation for aerosol optical properties. The two pods can now be used together or separately depending on the scientific objectives of a field campaign. The pods are also offered for Transnational Access as part of the FP7 EUFAR contract. The AARP is the first airborne instrumental development in Europe carried out by a consortium of laboratories from 5 different countries.

The EUFAR consortium of 5 aircraft operators in FP5 was extended to almost all major European operators of instrumented aircraft for environmental research in FP6. Most of them had seldom collaborated in the field or coordinated their developments. During the four years of the contract, the culture rapidly changed, with the most significant step being the operators unanimous decision to collectively manage the EU allocation for Transnational Access and for the least successful operators to release their allocation to the most demanded facilities. Another significant sign of progress has been their ability to collectively select a priority for the development of the fleet and submit to ESFRI a proposal for the construction of a pan-European instrumented aircraft. The so-called COPAL project was further selected in the ESFRI roadmap, submitted to the Commission for a Preparatory Phase and it started in the third year of the EUFAR project. More generally, the operators adopted a culture of collaboration and actively supported each other when difficulties appeared, such as failure of instruments and lack of spare parts during field experiments.
This evolution of the culture significantly impacts the service offered to the users. The final objective of EUFAR, namely to provide the scientific users with the most complete fleet and access at equal terms irrespective of the user origin in Europe, has not yet been fully completed since the Forum with national research funding institutions for long term commitments on pan-European access has not been organised. Monitoring tools have been developed for the activities of the fleet and their scientific impact, that aim at facilitating a joint approach in infrastructures management, hence support national organisations in their decision for an effective implementation of pan-European access. While EUFAR operators are ready to implement it, they were unable to mobilise the national research funding organisations. The situation however is progressing since a few operators are now in favour of opening their facilities to scientists from other countries, and the coordinators of I3 and PP projects have recently decided jointly to address this issue.
Beyond this long term objective of Pan-European Access implementation, the other EUFAR activities have successfully reached their objectives:
The EUFAR website that provides the users with a central portal to all facilities aircraft and instruments, sources of funding and application forms for access is now well known by the community (more than 1000 users registered) and it is frequently consulted (more than 300 connections per month).
About 100 young scientists have been trained and had the opportunity to design a field experiment, to define the flight plan with the crew and participate to it, and finally analyse the collected data. Since, a few have already submitted their own Transnational Access proposal.
The quality of the service has been improved through the activities of the experts that will soon lead to the publication of a reference hand-book on airborne measurements. This book will allow scientific users to better understand the nature of the collected data, their limitations and accuracy. It will facilitate the development of innovative instrumentation and of new processing algorithms, hence increasing the efficiency of the scientific community.
EUFAR is now recognised as the European portal to airborne research activities as attested by the recent initiative of the US operators of instrumented aircraft (NSF, NASA, DOE, NOAA) to constitute an International Committee, jointly chaired by EUFAR and their coordinating body (ICCAGRA).

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