By Dr Naresh Kumar, ACARE Communication Group Chair
Aviation serves society, brings people together and delivers goods, adding value through speed, reliability and resilience in a global network. It has a strong track record on reducing environmental impacts and also contributes to society in other critical, non-transport areas such as climate monitoring, emergency services, search and rescue and disaster relief.
Though in the global picture aviation industry is responsible for around 2% of humaninduced carbon dioxide emissions it plays an important role in contributing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as noise and local air quality. Demand for air transport continues to increase, meaning that air travel in the future will need to look very different than that of today to support sustainable growth.
More efficient aircraft and engines will need to be developed with radically new configurations to improve fuel efficiency and address climate change. Better operational and flight management procedures will also be needed to include improvement of air traffic management efficiency. Improved maintenance technologies will also help prevent degradation of fuel efficiency in ageing aircraft and thus reduce the flying fleet's emissions. Improved understanding of non-CO2 contributions to climate change - including NOx, particulates, and contrails and their dependence on operational parameters - will enable the sector to take a 'cradle to grave' approach to protecting the environment and the energy supply in aviation.
In essence, this is what - under the leadership of the European Commission - the High Level Group comprising representatives from the aeronautics industry, air traffic management, airports, airlines, energy providers and the research community, addresses in Flightpath 2050. This vision of how Aeronautics and Air Transport in Europe will look and function by 2050 sets profoundly ambitious goals which will only be met if better methods and processes facilitate the search for new solutions. The targets set for 2050 include, amongst others: reduction of CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre by 75%, NOx emissions by 90% and perceived noise by 65%, all relative to the year 2000; emission-free aircraft movements when taxiing; design and manufacturing of recyclable air vehicles.
To achieve such goals, European aviation will need to deploy extraordinary technological effort to define the air vehicles of the future, implement improved air operations and traffic management and deliver improved airport environment to meet the needs of passengers. Aviation must serve society by providing transport for people and goods that is seamless, safe and secure, cost effective and interwoven with other transport modes.
But how will European aviation get there and realise that vision? This is the purpose of the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA). It provides guidance on the research and innovation actions needed to deliver the 'Flightpath 2050' vision and accounts both for the evolution of technology and for radical solutions or step changes. The full document will be published during the ILA Airshow in Berlin, in September and promoted throughout Europe with high level events at the Brussels EU Parliament, in Germany, Romania, Italy, France, Poland, Spain, and Sweden.
Through these events we hope to engage as many organisations as possible, large and small, to participate in this very ambitious and exciting programme so that Europe can maintain its global leadership for aviation and also meet the needs of citizens in the future.
ACARE, the Advisory Council for Aviation Research and Innovation in Europe, is a forum for Aviation stakeholders, which since 2000, has set the research agenda for delivering significant improvements in sustainable, reliable, affordable and passenger-friendly aviation. Significant progress has been made since 2000: new aircraft designs are quieter and burn less fuel per passenger kilometre which means lower emissions. ACARE has now set out challenging objectives for future decades in the European Commission's document Flightpath 2050 which was published in March 2011. This new vision was developed by a High-Level Group for aviation research and innovation under the leadership of the European Commission. With new membership, ACARE is developing the research requirements for the future - a Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) that will provide a pathway towards the vision
More info: www.aera-pro-project.eu or www.acare4europe.org