‘Clean Sky’ gets off the ground despite initial delay

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The €1.6 billion European programme to drive the aviation sector towards more environmentally-friendly development is now on track, according to Allan Cook, president of the Aerospace and Defense industries association of Europe (ASD).

Speaking at ASD’s annual press conference in Brussels yesterday (2 July), Cook revealed that his industry would supply half of the €1.6 billion programme, with the European Commission providing the other half. 

The ASD president announced that industry’s carbon reduction target, as set by the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE), aims to reduce CO2 emissions and noise by 50% on 2000 levels for new aircraft entering into service in the year 2020. 

Investing the €1.6 billion over a seven year period, the Clean Sky programme aims to “reduce the impact we have, flying today, on the environment,” said Cook. He disclosed that the project will focus on six sectors: smart fixed wing aircraft; green regional aircraft; green helicopters; sustainable and green engines; systems for green operations; eco-designs. 

“The clean sky programme will develop and validate break-through technologies that are going to allow Europe to design and build the green aircraft of the future,” said the industry representative. 

European Commission bureaucracy 

But European Commission bureaucracy slowed, and nearly ended, the Clean Sky programme before it had even started, Cook told reporters at the meeting. 

Despite the industry’s commitment to the project, Cook revealed that the project has been frustrated by “internal Commission bureaucracy”, which has slowed and frustrated the project to such an extent that the stakeholders have been “really struggling collectively to get this off the ground”, lamented to Cook. 

“Last April these difficulties had reached a point where we feared, as an industry, that the programme would actually fall apart and fail to deliver the much needed results that we are looking for by 2020 on time,” recalled the industry chief. 

However, Cook declared that the Commission has since answered the industry’s calls to “take rapid action” to ensure the success of the project. 

“We noted with some degree of satisfaction that we have actually set up an ad-hoc group with the Commission, to facilitate and speed-up the decision-making on Clean Sky related issues”, said Cook, announcing his satisfaction with the Commission’s more nibble approach to the project since April. 

Other positive developments that have increased industry’s confidence in the project over the last few months, according to Cook, have been the appointment of Eric Dautriat as the executive director of the Clean Sky network, and the launch of Clean Sky’s first call for R&D projects on 15 June. 

EU’s Clean Sky initiative aims to improve the environmental performance and competitiveness of Europe’s aeronautics industry. 

The initiative comes as the EU is attempting to stem rising air pollution from the rapidly growing aviation sector. It is part of a three-pillar approach, which features a controversial proposal to include airlines in the EU's carbon emissions cap-and-trade system (see LinksDossier on Aviation & ETS). 

  • 15 June: call for proposal for Research and Development Clean Sky projects.
  • 31 Aug.: deadline for call for proposal.
  • Aerospace and Defense industries association of Europe:Homepage

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