Global air traffic is forecast to triple between 2000 and 2015 and, if this demand is to be met, more than 5,000 new aircraft will have to be built each year. Europe's aeronautics industry therefore faces a massive challenge to satisfy demand for economic, safe and environmentally friendly air travel. In the next 20 years, over 16 000 commercial aircraft could be built worldwide to meet the expected tripling of air traffic. Competition in the global aeronautical products market is correspondingly fierce.
This part of the Growth Programme - the Key Action 4 (KA4) on 'New Perspectives in Aeronautics' - aims to strengthen the competitiveness of the European aeronautic industry, including SMEs, while ensuring sustainable growth of air transportation.
Four priorities have been set for European aeronautics research over the next eight to ten years:
- cut procurement costs through reductions in aircraft production costs by 35% and development time by 15 to 20%;
- improve efficiency and performance, with reduction in fuel consumption by 20% and general improvement in reliability and direct operating costs;
- reduce noise and climate impacts as well as improve passenger environment, with reductions in emissions of NOx by 80% and CO2 by 20% and decrease of external and cabin noise by 10dB each; and
- improve operational capability and safety, through reductions in aircraft maintenance costs by 25% and decrease in accident rates by at least the same factor as the growth in traffic.
The Aeronautics programme is broken down to nine technology platforms which are addressing technology integration and validation activities:
- low-cost, low-weight primary structures;
- efficient and environmentally friendly aero-engines;
- novel rotary-wing aircraft configurations;
- more autonomous aircraft in the air traffic management systems;
- power-optimised aircraft;
- low external noise aircraft;
- low noise aircraft cabins;
- novel fixed-wing aircraft configurations; and
- integrated and modular aircraft electronic systems.
Key Action 4 (KA4) 'New perspectives in aeronautics' comprises an overall budget of some EUR 700 million.
Directorate H - Space and Transport (Aeronautics Unit)