The European Commission plans to spend up to €2.5 billion ($3.16 billion) on aeronautics and air transport enabling research under its developing Seventh Framework technology programme.
The programme would have two top-level "pillars" focused on improving the international competitiveness of European aerospace and enhancing the performance of Europe's civil air transport industry.
Dr Dietrich Knoerzer, EC director general of aeronautics research, says six research priorities have been attached to the two "pillars" so far: improvement of aircraft environmental performance, with "greening" of the air transport sector seen as a potential competitive advantage; improved time-effectiveness of air transport services; measures to improve air transport safety and customer satisfaction; measures to increase air transport cost-effectiveness; protection of passengers and aircraft; and the air transport system of the future.
Speaking at the EC-funded UAVNET meeting in Eilat, Israel, Knoerzer said the programme would emphasise increased international collaboration, reaching beyond EU member states through a new joint technology initiatives programme. The aerospace sector is also expected to be heavily affected by plans for a new European Research Council, and by a desire to continue using stakeholder-focused approaches – including centres of excellence – to develop European technology.
Knoerzer said a major effort was likely to be made to integrate individual EU member states' research in the aeronautics sector with broader European goals. The EC plans to open its doors for specific proposals in the six research areas this September.
Knoerzer said the Commission was now interested in funding unmanned air vehicle activity after excluding it from the Sixth Framework. The Seventh Framework is planned to run from 2007 to 2013.
PETER LA FRANCHI/EILAT
Source: Flight International