EU fights aircraft pollution

Publish date: June 26, 2007

Written by: Niklas Kalvø Tessem

BRUSSELS - The European Union (EU) has agreed to propose the Clean Sky Initiative – presented by European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik at the Paris Air Show June 20th – in a move to reduce pollution from aviation.

New technology
The proposal is the result of a Joint Research Initiative, which received special funding from the EU. This is an industry driven approach, where the EU supports research in a public-private partnership. The aviation industry will match EU contributions to the project, for a total of EUR 1.6 billion in funding.

Today aviation contributes to 4 percent of EU emissions of green house gases. The goal of the Clean Sky Initiative is to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent, NOx emissions by 60 percent and noise by 50 percent. It is expected that there will be a large renewal in the airplane fleet by 2015, and the EU hopes that new technology will be in place to reach the goals by then.

“I warmly welcome industry’s commitment to the Clean Sky initiative, Potocnik told reporters in Paris.

“Clean Sky will make the best use of both public and private resources to develop cleaner and quieter aircraft, with spill-over benefits in many other areas of science like materials, computer simulations, and energy management.”

Six points of research
The research plan focuses on six new technology areas; wings, weight, rotor blades, or helicopters, engines, electric aircraft equipment and ecological design. This approach will ensure that all levels of pollution and noise from airplanes – from building material to engine emissions – will be addressed.

All large companies in the aviation industry will contribute to the project, as well as smaller companies, universities and research centres. The Commission noted that the European Aviation industry is faced with intense competition from its American and Asian counterparts. It is thus necessary to join forces to be competitive.

“Progress will be helped by better coordination of industrial R&D (research and development) objectives, avoiding duplication of effort, unnecessary bureaucracy, and suboptimal use of limited research funding,” the Commission said in a statement.

“Traditional EU collaborative research instruments cannot achieve the co-ordination of research efforts necessary to cope with the scale and complexity of the research challenges involved.”

The Association of European Airlines (AEA) says that the European aviation industry has been successful in reducing green house gas emissions with technology improvements, but 12 percent of current carbon dioxide emissions are caused by limits in the infrastructure. It is now hoped that technology developments will remedy this, and also that the Clean Sky Initiative will help to improve energy efficiency in areas as in flight routes and flight construction.