Europe's Clean Sky programme at risk: ASD

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A European programme aimed at delivering a new generation of more environmentally friendly airliners could fail due to European Union bureaucracy, an industry body has warned.

The €1.6 billion, seven-year Clean Sky programme - to which the EU and a group of European aerospace companies committed in October 2006, each vowing to contribute 50% of the funding - is "still struggling to get off the ground" because the European Commission has yet to put in place the required governance structure, according to the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD).

Speaking in Brussels for the ASD, Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said: "Europe has been quick to create a new source of income through the emissions trading scheme, but very slow when it comes to concretely addressing the problem." Enders is also president of of German aerospace industry association BDLI.

Enders says the Commission's efforts are "in grave danger of suffocating in red tape", citing "severe constraints" imposed by regulations that are "clearly ill-adapted to this type of partnership".

He warns: "We face the clear and present danger that the programme will fail to produce the needed results on time [and] that industry will very soon be obliged to redirect these funds towards other national or company technology initiatives."

The ASD is calling on the Commission to make "rapid and far-reaching changes to the ill-adapted internal procedures" so that the programme will be "no more than a year late".

Enders emphasised the competitive importance of Clean Sky, which is primarily aimed at the regeneration of the Airbus A320 narrowbody family. "This is not an academic exercise for us: it has a background in real products and future needs."