High-level workshop explores detail of co-operation in new technology

Aeronautics researchers from China and the European Union (EU) met in Beijing in mid-September for a two-day workshop to discuss possible joint projects under the EU's 6th Framework Programme of Research and Technology (FP6).

The aim was to match up project proposals, identify tools and recommend actions to promote EU-China co-operation, says EU research directorate international co-operation head Daniel Descoutures. He adds that the EU is trying to encourage European aerospace firms to include Chinese participation in responses to the first call for proposals under FP6, due in December.

Research possibilities include human factors in flight safety, cabin design, materials and manufacturing, smart materials, helicopters, tiltrotors, air traffic management and the environment. "We are keen to develop some strategic partnerships in terms of research with several countries, one of which is China," says Descoutures.

At the workshop were senior research officials from the EU, the European Association of Aerospace Industries (AECMA), and Eurocontrol. Companies included Airbus, Agusta, Alenia, Dassault, Rolls-Royce, Snecma, Smiths Aerospace and Thales. Government officials, academics and delegates from China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) branches I and II represented China.

Europe's manufacturers see China as a vast potential market, with air travel set to balloon over the coming decades. Co-operation with China in aeronautical research could help spread the cost of developing new products, and boost sales of European aircraft and aerospace equipment in the country.

However, issues of technology transfer remain sensitive due to concerns over China's military ambitions, and the problem of how to protect intellectual property rights must also be resolved.

Source: Flight International