Concentration on green issues could lead to emission cuts and development of quiet, ultra-efficient widebody

European politicians are set to unveil a c300 million ($370 million) list of research priorities this week, which could lead to the development of a greener, quieter widebody airliner.

The European Commission's directorate general (DG) for research will set out its aeronautical agenda for the second tranche of funding under its sixth framework programme of five-year projects. The budget for the second wave of funding has risen by €50 million, and includes studies into future large, fuel-efficient airframes. Two studies under the first tranche of current EC funding, looking into efficient and environmentally friendly engines, are well advanced, and the EC believes that Airbus could marry up various research strands to create a large, ultra-efficient airliner offering a step change in noise and emission levels.

The EC's aeronautics research unit says the calls for tenders to be issued this week will include studies into future large airliner designs; composite structures; passenger cabin comfort; low-noise engines; all-weather flight hazard protection; and supersonic business jets. Two of the projects will exceed €50 million in value, the unit adds.

The EC says its priorities have changed from the 1970s, when research funds were used to boost the competitiveness of European industry. "We still take the lead from industry, but we also take into account social aspects, like the environmental impact of air transport," the aeronautical research unit says. The DG points to around 20 elements in the Airbus A380 ultra-large airliner, including the development of the Glare fibre/metal laminate structure and composite wing boxes, which have benefited from EC funding.

The DG is also poised to announce a series of tenders for small and medium-sized aerospace companies.



Source: Flight International