The European Union's €174 million ($240 million) Green Regional Aircraft programme has begun work with claims that an "eco-friendly" regional aircraft could start flight tests five years from now.

The Green Regional Aircraft programme, part of the EU's Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative (JTI), aims to deliver a new airliner design featuring low-weight structures using smart materials, low external aircraft noise and integration with other JTI projects' technologies, such as engines and energy management systems.

Work began on 7 October with a budgetary and planning meeting of the industrial and academic participating organisations for the Green Regional Aircraft programme. Finmeccanica company Alenia Aeronautica is a co-leader of the programme along with EADS Casa. Alenia says: "The new eco-compatible regional aircraft [that the Green Regional Aircraft programme could bring about] could enter into service before 2020, while flight tests will begin in 2013."

The Green Regional Aircraft programme is one of six technology programmes within the JTI. The goal of the JTI, launched in February in Brussels and part of the EU's Seventh Framework research programme, is to advance technologies to improve the environmental and performance standards of the aviation industry. It will last seven years and has a total value of €1.6 billion.

The other five JTI programmes are smart fixed-wing aircraft, green rotorcraft, sustainable and green engines, systems for green operations and eco-design.

Source: Flight International