Council declares long-term aims, but expense and timescale may deter investors

The European Union's aerospace research council believes Europe can cut aircraft noise and pollution in half by 2020, but the high price and long timescale may put off state and private backers that are needed to achieve these targets.

The Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) has set four goals to be achieved by 2020: cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 50%; reducing the number of accidents by a factor of five; halving aircraft noise; and providing near perfect punctuality, with 99% of all European Union flights landing and departing within 15min of schedule.

But ACARE says the project will cost "in excess of €100 billion [$99 billion] over 20 years", and will need breakthroughs in technology and operations. "Evolutions of current concepts will not be sufficient," it warns.

Given this, "it is clear that more public and private investment will be needed", says the group. Jean-Paul Béchat, president of European aerospace industries association AECMA, says it will be difficult to find investors willing to make "a long-term financial commitment with no short-term returns".

ACARE, set up last year, has 30 members from EU member states, the European Commission, the EU aerospace industry and airspace users. It plans to publish its first report in October.

The group believes that its objectives are ambitious but achievable. Delivering them "will require substantially more output from the European aeronautic research community, which must devise new ways to make the system of research more efficient in all its forms".

ACARE has identified five key areas which need to be addressed: a research infrastructure; a supply chain capable of exploiting European expertise and turning new technologies into competitive products; certification and qualification processes that facilitate the rapid introduction of innovative technologies into production models; an educational system capable of delivering skilled researchers; and trans-European synergy to make best use of the research effort.

ACARE also calls on major corporations that have international networks to "continue to invest their resources in Europe". Béchat says that the low cost and high level of skills available in countries such as India are already attracting research projects from large European companies.

To reverse this trend, ACARE says: "Europe must provide a receptive environment, ensuring equal competitive footing with other countries and economic regions, to encourage those investments to remain in Europe."

Source: Flight International