The European Commission has unveiled the first tranche of aeronautics research projects to be funded under its Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). No real surprises among them: there is a big emphasis on reducing the environmental impact of air transport and advancing the use of composites in aircraft.
Leading the list of oh-so-European-sounding projects are: MAAXIMUS, looking for better, quicker, cheaper ways of designing and producing composite structures; DREAM, for alternative fuels, active controls and open rotors to reduce fuel consumption and emissions; and SCARLETT, for open architecture, fault tolerant, scalable and reconfigurable avionics.
Funding for all 36 "first call" projects selected totals €217 million, out of the €2.1 billion that the EC plans to send on aeronautics and air transport research over the seven years of FP7, which runs from 2007 to 2013. And most of that money is directed at projects that could benefit European industry in the near-term - in time for the next generation of Airbus narrowbody.
One or two "blue sky" projects made the first cut, including a second phase of the LAPCAT study of combined-cycle engines and airframe technologies for a future Mach 4-8 airliner able to fly from Brussels to Sydney in 2-4h. Despite LAPCAT participant Reaction Engines' optimistic artwork, I doubt Airbus will be building one of these any time soon...