The new long-term vision for the future of aviation was presented last week by EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas at the 2011 Aerodays in Madrid.
The vision document is the result of years of work by the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE), an expert group bringing policymakers together with researchers and representatives of the aeronautics industry.
The report, entitled 'Flightpath 2050: Europe's visions for aviation', sets out research priorities to preserve the EU's industrial leadership in the sector whilst meeting societal and market needs, protecting the environment and securing energy supply.
High-performance industry, ATM system
The document suggests that the European aviation industry could maintain and even increase its competitiveness with a share of more than 40% of the global market, regardless of increasing competition from emerging players such as China.
According to the report, Europe's future air traffic management (ATM) system will be able to handle "at least" 25 million flights a year in a way that "flights arrive within one minute of the planned arrival time regardless of weather conditions".
Currently around nine million flights take place every year, many of which suffer hours of delay.
Other 2050 goals for the sector include a 75% reduction in CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre, a 90% reduction in NOx emissions and a 65% reduction in perceived noise from flying aircraft.
The Aerodays, organised by the European Commission's research department, takes place every five years. This year's edition was billed as being of particular importance in the context of preparations for the successor to the EU's current 7th Framework Programme for Research – the so-called Common Strategic Framework, for which the Commission is set to table proposals in December.
Stakeholders hope that the upcoming CSF will include continued support for aerospace technology to help reduce emissions, work on engines and alternative fuels, ATM, safety and environmentally efficient aviation.
The flightpath 2050 report comes hot on the heels of the Commission's White Paper on Transport, adopted last week, which set out a long-term vision for the EU transport sector as a whole.