The AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) has commended progress on the Clean Sky joint technology initiative, two months after warning that the programme was in danger of "suffocating in red tape".
In April the ASD voiced fears that Clean Sky - which is aimed at generating green technologies for future aircraft - would fail unless "rapid and far-reaching" changes were made to the European Commission's internal procedures. It noted that the European Union had yet to release its half of the €1.6 billion ($2.2 billion) in funding committed to the seven-year research project.
Eric Dautriat has since been named executive director of Clean Sky and plans have been formulated for a new ad hoc group to be created within the EC to speed decision making on Clean Sky-related issues. A €25 million first call for research proposals has also been issued. These moves were welcomed by the ASD at a briefing in Brussels on 2 July.
"We made it clear to the Commission that we had to take rapid action if the Clean Sky programme was going to be given even a chance to deliver on the ambitious objectives that we set ourselves," says Allan Cook, the association's president and Cobham chief executive. "I'm glad to say that the Commission has actually heard what we're saying and we've had a very positive response."
However, EU "bureaucracy" is a "continued frustration" to Cook. "We have to continue to put pressure on the Commission to improve that situation," he cautions.
ASD secretary general Francois Gayet similarly acknowledges that the Clean Sky programme's problems are "not 100% solved", citing for example a first-year budget that his association considers insufficient.