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EC Announces New Aviation Research Projects

by Ulrika Lomas, for LawAndTax-News.com, Brussels

19 October 2007


The European Commission on Thursday unveiled the results of the first EU-wide call for research proposals in aeronautics and air transport under the EU Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7).

The 36 "highly innovative projects" selected in that first call should bring important advances into greener, safer, more secure air transport and improved cost efficiency in aeronautics, according to the EC.

EUR217 million has been made available for this first batch of projects, out of a total of EUR2.1 billion for aeronautics research in the years 2007 to 2013.

The projects were selected following an evaluation by independent experts, and are now subject to final contract negotiations between the project teams and the European Commission.

European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potocnik explained that:

"Research holds the key to many of the challenges we face in today's world, including how to make air transport safer, greener, quieter and more efficient. The projects selected from the latest round of proposals all address one or other of these vital issues. Today's announcement once again highlights how important it is for our quality of life to invest in bringing new technologies to the market."

The Commission revealed that:

"This first call in the area of aeronautics, with a budget of EUR217 million, received nearly 200 proposals, with the partners coming from across Europe and beyond. There was particularly strong interest from Central and Eastern Europe and third countries. The best 36 proposals, as identified by independent external evaluators, were selected for funding."

"They include innovative research into key areas such as flight physics and alternative fuels to reduce CO2 emissions; new systems to improve the safety of aircraft in bad weather; advances in 'self repairing' capability for aircraft materials; and blast-proof cabin secondary structures. Competitiveness is also a key preoccupation, with a number of projects specifically targeting production and development costs of airframe, structures, engines and components."

The projects include 26 collaborative research projects; 6 coordination and support actions aimed at stimulating participation of SMEs and a wide range of Member States; and 4 large projects aimed at bringing innovative technologies closer to market. The four largest projects, which will alone receive half of the funding, involve major players in the air transport industry with the dual goal of reinforcing Europe's industrial leadership and responding to environmental and safety concerns.

They are:

  • DREAM (Validation of Radical Engine Architecture Systems). This project with 47 partners from 13 countries is led by Rolls Royce. It will develop new engine concepts based on open contra-rotating rotors, with a target of a 7% reduction in CO2 emissions and 3 decibel reduction in noise. It will also develop specifications for alternative fuels as well as assessing and testing future potential fuels. The project will receive around EUR25 million from the EU budget.
  • MAAXIMUS (More Affordable Aircraft Structure through Extended, Integrated and Mature Numerical Sizing). This project with 58 partners from 18 countries is led by Airbus. It focuses on improving the composition and design of fuselages to cut assembly time in half and reduce structural weight by 10%, with a lighter airframe leading to lower CO2 emissions. MAAXIMUS will receive around EUR40 million.
  • HIRF SE (High Intensity Radiated Field Synthetic Environment). This project gathers 44 partners from 11 countries, with Alenia in the lead. It will create simulators to test new aircrafts' reactions to electromagnetic interference. More research is needed in this field because of the growing use of composite materials in aircraft building. HIRF SE is set to receive around EUR18 million.
  • SCARLETT. This project led by Thales will develop new and advanced modular avionics platforms for a range of aircraft types. It will receive around EUR23 million.

The first projects are expected to start their research in January 2008.


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