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Interview of Professor Spiros Pantelakis, Chairman of the EASN Association

Professor Spiros Pantelakis, Chairman of the EASN Association, shares his thoughts on the implementation of the Parliamentary Breakfast and the Open EASN Workshop which will be held on April 12th, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.

Q1: EASN is organizing a Parliamentary Breakfast on April 12th 2018, followed by an open Workshop which will be held at the premises of the European Commission just after the Parliamentary Breakfast, having both the same subject, namely "accelerated impact of academia aviation research for improved air transport for all European citizens". Could you please explain which are the main messages EASN wishes to pass with these combined events?
A common prejudice is that economic growth is created almost explicitly by the Industry whilst the role of Academia is thought to be limited to educating students and performing fundamental research to advance science and explain unexplained phenomena. This view is contradicted by the history of aeronautics. A number of major breakthroughs in aeronautics with major societal and economic impact were initiated and developed by the   academia. No need to say that these breakthroughs would never have been enabled without the synergy between Academia and Industry. Therefore, one of the topics of the Workshop deals with examples of recent academia research which resulted to already flying innovation. The first message we want to pass with these combined events is the indispensible role of Academia in a joint effort to keep the global leadership of the European aeronautics. To respond to this role Academia needs a friendly research environment, sufficient funds and proper funding mechanisms. Given that the discussions about the next European Framework Programme are in progress I feel it is a good time to communicate this message and discuss on how Europe will fully exploit the excellent research capabilities of the European aeronautics academia and its untapped potential. The second and equally important message is that Academia does care about the impact of its research results to the real economy and the prosperity of the society. Therefore we are ready to listen very carefully to the expectations of the industry and also discuss without any prejudice on the role of academia in public private partnerships. On our side we are ready to propose a concept relying on the Open Innovation Test beds, already successfully implemented by the Commission, which will appreciably accelerate the impact of academia research for improved air transport for all European citizens and will support the upcoming "missions" which target a significant societal and economic impact for Europe.

Q2: You have mentioned the 9th Framework Programme and the discussions about it. What is your view about the aeronautics research therein?
The lessons learned from the previous Framework Programmes as well as from the running HORIZON 2020 and extensive discussions within EASN lead me to a number of suggestions. The European aeronautics has committed itself to the targets set in the Flightpath 2050. These demanding targets can be never achieved with a fragmented aeronautical society and fragmented research activities. Therefore I believe that the European aeronautics research needs to be coordinated and managed by a single entity being responsible for all tools and programmes which will be implemented in the frame of FP 9. I believe also that there is a need for a global budget increase for aeronautics research as compared to H2020. The dynamic entrance of new players in the international market, the desire to realize a number of visionary objectives, such as the hybrid propulsion and all-electric aircraft, etc., make an increased funding for aeronautics research a necessity. In this context, it is obvious to me that research is needed at all levels of maturation. We need funds and tools to explore technologies, we need funds and tools to mature technologies and we need funds and tools to demonstrate technologies. It is also obvious to me that we need a pylon of focused research which will aim to demonstrate certain technologies and will involve all levels of Technological Readiness and a pylon of flexible research, open to all stakeholders and a priori independent of the focused objectives. This flexible pylon, which should be understood as a sort of successor of the previous collaborative research, will mainly aim to explore innovation and breakthrough technologies. No need to say that synergies between the two pylons should be secured to increase impact of the results and avoid duplications. In our view the funds for these two programmes should be balanced.

Q3: One of the main topics of the Parliamentary Breakfast is: "Open dissemination of knowledge and breakthrough technologies to ensure trans-sectorial exploitation of innovation". Could you please say a few words about the motivation to include this topic?
Dissemination is one of the main objectives of the EASN Association. Knowledge and technologies which have been developed with the money of the European tax payer have to be open to the society. Frankly speaking I believe that we need to appreciably improve our policies concerning dissemination of aeronautics research results and I am disappointed to notice that in Horizon 2020 dissemination in aeronautics research made a step back as compared to FP 7. EASN is a big supporter of the "Open Innovation, Open Science, Open to the World" vision of the European Commission. On the other hand, we do recognize that before this policy can be implemented the development of a commonly acceptable code of conduct on how this vision can be realized without threatening the competitiveness of the European industry is required. This code of conduct has to be developed jointly by all stakeholders in aeronautics.

Q4: What is the response so far to the Parliamentary Breakfast and the Open Workshop?
The response to both events has exceeded our expectations. The Parliamentary Breakfast has been fully booked within 24 hours!  A little big longer has taken to fully book also the Workshop. This fact is for me a clear message of the willingness of the European aeronautics community to actively participate on shaping the aeronautics research in Europe, make it more efficient and increase its impact. It would be also a big omission not to express my gratitude to all who contributed for realizing these combined events: Dr. Dieter-Lebrecht Koch, Mrs. Monika Hohlmeier, who are the hosting Members of the European Parliament as well as Mrs. Clara de la Torre and Dr. Sebastiano Fumero from the European Commission side, the Members of the European Parliament who already confirmed their presence at the Breakfast, the distinguished speakers at both events, the officers of the Commission for their great support and the members of EASN who worked, and still work hard, for the success of the events.

Date posted: March 26, 2018, 8:05 am

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