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Interview of Giuseppe Pagnano about JTI "Clean Sky"

Clean Sky is the most ambitious aeronautical research programme ever launched in Europe. Its mission is to develop breakthrough technologies to significantly increase the environmental performances of airplanes and air transport, resulting in less noisy and more fuel efficient aircraft, hence bringing a key contribution in achieving the Single European Sky environmental objectives.

Mr. Giuseppe Pagnano, Coordinating Project Officer of JTI "Clean Sky" offered an interview about the project and the role and involvement of the European Academic Community.  

Q: Clean Sky was born in year 2008 as a Public-Private Partnership between the European Commission and the Industry and is expected to complete its activities by the end of 2017. What are the aims of Clean Sky and which are the key technologies to be developed in the frame of JTI?

A: The 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission introduced a Level 3 approach, based on Joint Technology Initiatives aiming at ?closer to the market? research topic. The ACARE aeronautical platform finalized a proposal for a JTI with main target the Greening of Aviation (as linked to the related Challenge and High level target of SRA1 and SRA2).

The definition of the content of the programme took a few years, but resulted in an integrated approach where the different aeronautical sectors contributing to the environmental impact, work concurrently to reach the environmental targets defined by ACARE for year 2020, by choosing the most promising technologies from the environmental impact viewpoint and integrating them in suitable large scale demonstrators.

The structure is based on Six Integrated Technology Demonstrators (three vehicle platforms: Smart Fixed Wind Aircraft; Green Regional Aircraft and Green Rotorcraft. And three transversal ITDs: Eco Design; Systems for Green Operations; Sustainable and Green Engines), complemented by a dedicated Technology Evaluator aimed at assessing the progress of research activities with respect to the targets.

Among the most interesting technologies and demonstrators, it is worth mentioning: aircraft wings with Natural Laminar flow; new propulsion concepts featuring Open Rotors; morphing blades for helicopter rotors; avionics to help pilots to perform more efficient and less noisy flight paths; Life Cycle Assessment of the future aeronautical products; further development of More Electric systems.

Q: The JTI Clean Sky is interpreted by academia to be a project with a clear ?industrial? focus. Nevertheless, the involvement of academia in Clean Sky is appreciable. What is the role of academia in JTI? Could you give some examples from the six Integrated Technology Demonstrators (ITDs) building Clean Sky, which underline the need and demonstrate the role of academia involvement in Clean Sky?

A: Although Clean Sky is a Level 3 programme, with research targeting high TRL level, its duration and content has allowed a significant participation of Academia and research Centres, as well as of Small and Medium Enterprises. This because the technologies to be evaluated and selected in the first phase of the project were at low TRL level, and therefore suitable for Academia; and also because the Research Topics in the calls for Proposals, launched by Clean Sky on the basis of requests by the ITDs, were of adequate content to be applied by academic partners.

Some important universities are also permanent members of Associates of the ITDs, as members of Clusters: examples are: Air Green Cluster in GRA (Univ. of Naples; Univ. of Bologna; Univ. of Pisa); IGOR cluster in GRC (TU Delft): Nottingham University in SGO; .
Q: Clean Sky has completed up to now 10 calls for proposals which give to academia the chance to participate to Clean Sky by undertaking to face specific research and development topics identified in the frame of the ITDs. Could you give some statistics concerning academia involvement so far? Of particular interest would be the number of Universities involved so far, the number of projects involving Universities, the share amongst Universities of the various European countries in terms of participation and the share of academia participation in the various ITDs.

A: In the attachment, you can see a detailed analysis of the Academic participation so far in the JTI calls

Q: After 10 calls for proposals which would be your recommendations for a not very experienced academia group for helping them to prepare a good proposal?

A: Simply to follow the criteria set out in the Rules for participation, where the outline of the proposal document are presented and explained, as well as the evaluation criteria, with related chapter to be analyzed by evaluators.

Another suggestion we are giving to newcomers, is the access to existing projects through Cordis and the identification of current Partners, for reference and potential contact. The Call text and the clean Sky web site also provide links to the databases of potential partners with aeronautical competence, to be contacted again to establish a collaborative preparing of the proposal and partnership in the project.

Q: Clean Sky has still a long way to go up its completion by the end of 2017. Nevertheless, appreciable experience from carrying out this unique project has been already accumulated. Are there already some thoughts about a successor of Clean Sky after 2017? And if yes, would you see a need to change something in terms of academia involvement in it?

A: The PPPs in Horizon 2020 are currently considered as potential continuation of the existing JTIs. However both the content and the organization need refinement and adaptation to the potential new rules in FP8. So it is premature to discuss the implication or impact for academic partners, not only in terms of Call for Proposals (which could be maintained even at a different level) but also in terms of permanent participation (if the concept of named beneficiaries will be confirmed). Another more impacting change would be the combination of L1, L2 and L3 instruments under a same agency, due to a strong implementation of the externalization policy by the Commission. Again, it is too early to discuss.

Q: Recently Clean Sky has organized jointly with EASN an event carried out in Warsaw in the frame of the effort of Clean Sky to disseminate research results to the broader European aeronautics community. How would you judge this cooperation? Do you see a chance of a closer and more systematic cooperation between Clean Sky and EASN on the topic of dissemination of knowledge, which as you know, is one of the main objectives of the EASN Association?

A: The workshop held in Warsaw in September 2011 was the first experience of formal collaboration with EASN; the participation was slightly lower than expected. However the result was positive and certainly paves the way for a more systematic cooperation between Clean Sky and EASN; the preparation and dissemination of any future event will require a careful selection of target audience and definition of content (standard Info Day vs. thematic workshop; link with other research initiatives at local level vs. comparison of progress on selected technologies).

Attachment (pdf file 128.2 kb)
Date posted: March 14, 2012, 2:05 pm

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