A new beginning for European Aviation Research

Aviation has fundamentally transformed society over the past 40 years. The economic and social benefits throughout the world have been immense in ‘shrinking the planet’ with the efficient and fast transportation of people and goods. The growth of air traffic over the past 20 years has been spectacular, and will continue in the future, particularly in the growing markets of the Far East.

Europe is home to approximately 448 airlines and 701 commercial airports which in 2010 supported 606 million passengers allowing the free movement of people and goods across borders. Aviation creates economic growth, wealth and provides highly skilled jobs – it generates 600bn Euros and supports 8.7 million jobs. Research and development helps develop Europe’s competitive advantage - on average almost 7 billion Euros are reinvested every year in civil aeronautics R & D.

In 2000 the importance of aviation was recognised in Europe and consequently Commissioner Philippe Busquin invited Personalities from key stakeholders to agree on how aviation could better serve society’s needs and become a global leader in the field of aeronautics. The result was the “European Aeronautics: A vision for 2020” report, which was published in January 2001.

The Group of Personalities also agreed to establish a new Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) to develop and maintain a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) that would help achieve the goals of Vision 2020. ACARE was launched at the Paris Air Show in June 2001 and attracted over 40 member organisations and associations including representation from the Member States, the European Commission and stakeholders: manufacturing industry, airlines, airports, service providers, regulators, research establishments and academia.

ACARE’s main focus then was to carry forward the SRA to influence all European stakeholders in the planning of research programmes at European and national levels. The SRA was not a research programme, but rather a roadmap outlining the strategic orientations which should be taken if Europe is to meet society's needs for aviation as a public mode of transport as well as noise and emissions reduction requirements in a sustainable way.

There is a vigorous programme of Aeronautics and Air Transport research, which is already delivering important initiatives and benefits for the aviation industry, including: EU collaborative research in Aeronautics and Air Transport (EC’s Framework Programme research FP6, FP7 and Horizon 2020), the Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative, the SESAR Joint Undertaking, national programmes in many Member States and research establishment as well as private company programmes. To date, ACARE has made significant contribution towards the overall goals on Vision 2020 and examples of successful research are detailed in “ACARE Success Stories: benefits beyond aviation” published in March 2011.

Over the same period a number of boundary conditions changed that prompted ACARE members to reconsider the sufficiency of the existing Vision 2020 with the view to extend it to a new horizon towards 2050.

ACARE has played a central role in providing support to the High Level Group on Aviation Research, convened by the European Commission that has now formulated a new vision beyond 2020 for the horizon towards 2050. The members of the High Level Group comprised CEO’s of stakeholder organisations representing aeronautics and air transport including airlines, airport operators, air traffic management providers, product manufacturers, fuel producers and research centres. The New Vision, Flightpath 2050, was released in March 2011 and is available from this website.

In response to this New Vision a new Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda was elaborated by ACARE during 2012, concurrently with the establishment of new research programmes in Europe and at a national level including “Horizon 2020”. This agenda can be accessed from the SRIA section.