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Troubled Clean Sky programme back on track: new chief

Clean Sky, the troubled public-private research bid to develop environmentally beneficial aviation technology, is making up for lost time, according to the newly appointed director of the seven-year programme.

The €1.6 billion ($2.3 billion) research effort - whose cost is divided between private and European Commission-administered public funds - was understood to be at risk of foundering earlier this year, as some of the largest European aerospace manufacturers grew frustrated at bureaucracy that threatened to stall €30 million worth of initial research contracts.

Clean Sky is centred on six integrated technology demonstrators. Executive director Eric Dautriat says: "The good news is that, at a recent top level meeting, all pending issues over the initial €30 million worth of contracts committed in 2008 were resolved.

"Everything is ready for the first call and should be released at the beginning of June and this should start to change the image of the programme."

He says the industry's main concern had been linked to the delay for the call for proposals for the more minor participants, or "partners".

"The building block that was missing was the partner contribution and, at 25% of the total €1.6 billion budget, it is not an insignificant contribution," says Dautriat.

He stresses that no single political issue was holding up the process, rather a series of discussions.

"The Commission's principal concern was to safeguard the correct way of spending and fair treatment for all participants. Industry did not want to go against that, but there had to be a series of practical discussions on how to proceed," he says.

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