October 2021

EASN's survey on expectations from Horizon Europe’s framework

  • The main aim of the Horizon Europe programme is to tackle climate change. In this context, the contribution expected from the Aviation Sector represents probably one of the biggest challenges in its history.

    Horizon Europe, which is the main tool for developing the technologies enabling to meet this challenge, entails an appreciable amount of aviation research; it includes mainly the JUs EPCA and SESAR as well as the relevant topics of Cluster 5. Furthermore, aviation will benefit from synergies with other JUs and Clusters addressing primarily other sectors such as the JUs Fuel Cells and Hydrogen, Made in Europe Partnership, Cluster 4 - Digital, Industry & Space etc.

    In this context, the following ten distinguished personalities of the European Aeronautical Research Community are sharing with the readers of the EASN Newsletter, their views about and their expectations from Horizon Europe:

    • Mr. Yann Barbaux | Senior Vice President at Airbus and Former Executive Chairman of Aerospace Valley
    • Mr. Bart de Vries | Advisor Operations Strategy at KLM and Co – Chair of ACARE
    • Dr. Hitendra Hirani | Aerospace EU Programme Manager at University of Nottingham and Chief Strategy Officer at University of Nottingham, Italy
    • Mr. Peter Hotham | Deputy Executive Director at SESAR Joint Undertaking
    • Dr. Dietrich Knoerzer | Independent aeronautics consultant in Brussels and a former senior Scientific Officer of the Aviation Unit within the Directorate General for Research & Innovation of the European Commission
    • Mr. Axel Krein | Executive Director of Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking
    • Ir. Joris Melkert | Associate Professor and Director of Education of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology
    • Prof. Spiros Pantelakis | Honorary Chairman of the EASN and Professor Emeritus at the University of Patras
    • Prof. Andreas Strohmayer | Chairman of the EASN and Head of the Department of Aircraft Design in the Institute of Aircraft Design (IFB), at the University of Stuttgart
    • Mrs. Gioia Venturini | Director, Vice-President for International Cooperation and Public Affairs R&T and Innovation of SAFRAN Group

    The set of questions, addressed to the interviewees, is the following:

    Question 1 (Q1): In your view, is the aforementioned framework sufficient to achieve the contribution expected from Aviation within the next decade? Which main research achievements should we expect by 2030?

    Question 2 (Q2): In your opinion, are the goals defined by the Strategic Research and Innovation Agendas of the aviation relevant JUs as well as the priorities set in Cluster 5 for Aviation, appropriate and sufficient to make the necessary step by 2030 towards a climate neutral and circular aviation by 2050?

    Question 3 (Q3): What is your view regarding the budget of Horizon Europe assigned for aviation research? Is it adequate? Is in your view the share of budget among the Aviation JUs and the aviation research priorities in Cluster 5 appropriate?

    The answers provided, are following in alphabetical order:

  • Mr. Yann Barbaux is Senior Vice President at Airbus and Former Executive Chairman of Aerospace Valley

    Q1: IATA recently announced "zero emission in 2050" as a new target for the aviation sector, instead of the previous objective which was a reduction of 50% compared to 2005 (already seen as very challenging). This new target can only be reached with a combination of major technical breakthrough: a simple optimisation of what we master today is not enough and all the tracks, even the most crazy ones, must be looked at: new aircraft architectures (including things such as the possibility of "catapulting" the aircraft to save on-board energy, or the possibility to use "ground effect"), new overall management of air traffic (including the possibility to use fully electric smaller planes on short distances), development of alternative fuels based on CO2 captured or hydrogen (we must reach zero fossil fuel as soon as possible), development of high performance batteries and fuel cells...

    Recycling and re-use (circular economy) are also absolute priorities, but it is true for all industrial sectors.

    However, we must not forget that our industry can also be a tool to limit Climate Change and to "repair" the consequences in case of catastrophe. Here I want to highlight that wild forest fires today represent 8 Giga Tons of emissions every year, i.e. roughly the same amount as the overall transport sector (maritime, terrestrial and aerial). Current means are undersized and not efficient enough to fight against these fires and in many places (Siberia, Alaska...) authorities just "let it burn". There are space and aerial solutions in preparation to better cover the different cases at world level and to drastically improve the performance of so-called water-bombers and a part of the funding should go to support the development of these solutions. It is not anecdotal: I saw a serious and sound proposal demonstrating that with a global investment of 26 bn$ at world level we could rapidly reduce by 2 Giga Tons the level of emissions coming from forest fires.

    To reach the 2050 target I think that we need to have achieved in 2030 at least the validation of "really green" alternative fuels, the validation of new batteries and fuel cells (with a target of 600 Watt-hours /kg) and the validation of new architectures (e.g. distributed propulsion with Boundary Layer Ingestion). And I would add the validation of an overall system to suppress forest fires (early detection based on satellites and drones, more efficient water-bombing systems...).

  • Mr. Bart de Vries is Advisor Operations Strategy at KLM and Co – Chair of ACARE

    Q1: To meet societal expectations, we need to embrace the instruments Horizon Europe offers to develop new and radical solutions which contribute to achieving the long-term ambition of the sector. Aviation specific JUs shall support the acceleration of these developments. However, we all know that more is needed to bring new solutions to the market. For promising solutions, we need to find way to support them get from TRL6 levels to market introduction, comprising financial support and right policy frameworks. Furthermore, is it crucial to maximise the benefits from synergies with other sectors. Developments in the field of H2 or batteries should meet the needs for our use case and aviation solutions (ie. in the field of materials/structures) should also find its way into other sectors/industries.

    Given the necessity to deliver impact in 2030, we need to ensure that these mechanisms to bridge the ‘Valley of death’ becomes available for these solutions which can bring down CO2 emissions in 2030. Looking at the existing announcements already made, we should expect to have successfully completed large scale flying demonstrators of hybrid powered clean aircrafts by 2030.

    Q2: Industry has taken up the need to work on solutions which deliver impact and announcements that disruptive solutions will come to market by 2035 is promising. With this intermediate deliverable, we will enable industry to build upon these lessons learned and accelerate even more towards 2050. So, for 2050 we cannot do without these JU’s and other collaborative aviation related research. However as said we need to find solutions to take meet societal expectations by 2030. Short term options such as the use of SAF, retrofitting aircrafts and implementing SES require something else then a SRIA of JU (https://www.clean-aviation.eu/files/Clean_Aviation_SRIA_R1_for_public__consultation.pdf). This needs political action and decisions. Discussions are endless with regard to SES, but in practise are concrete steps towards implementation lacking behind. With the ReFeulEU Aviation proposal, a mandate will deliver SAF to markets – but here there is not a financing mechanism such as announced by the Biden administration to incentivise production and delivery of SAF into market.
    Without the right political decisions to facilitate CO2 reductions, including a coherent package of policies and incentives, we might not be able to deliver as European aviation the impact we want to deliver.

    Q3: With a changing sentiment within the European Commission, we should be very happy that aviation related JU’s are on the future roadmap. Is it enough, never, however with a more flexible approach enabling intermediate changes we should ensure that we do the right things and focus on topics with potential to contribute to the industries objective. Furthermore, is there a need to collaborate with other industries to bring products and materials developed there into the aviation system. This is not only needed from a budgetary point of view, it also helps the aviation sector to benefit from specific knowledge in these sectors and could help to accelerate developments towards market readiness even further.

  • Dr. Hitendra Hirani is Aerospace EU Programme Manager at University of Nottingham and Chief Strategy Officer at University of Nottingham, Italy

    Q1: The new framework proposed for Horizon Europe provides focus to the activities and has the good intention to provide a basis for the development of new technology and pave the pathway for deployment into the aircraft fleet. However, it does not go far enough as the challenge is global and there needs to be further international consensus to enable international collaboration in addition to the funded EU programmes. Moreover, the challenge posed by the need for climate neutral aviation necessitates a new way of delivering the ambitious agenda. This calls for a programme that is more integrated than ever before and the possibility for integrating a training programme that produces the researchers of tomorrow on a European scale for high priority challenging areas such as aerospace alongside the research should be explored. Furthermore, it is vital to involve the supply chain in such initiatives to ensure that the technology being developed considers a route to production and embellishes supply chain companies with the possibility to gear itself up for production ramp up to deliver to the ambitions.

    That being said, the SRIA for the EPCA and the destinations described in the Cluster 5 programme provide some level of confidence that there will be investment in some of the most promising technologies that can be realised by 2030. Namely, the delivery of high power density electrical motors and drive systems built on better understanding of how key components behave at low temperature and low pressure is a key development, where we, at the University of Nottingham have been developing understanding and solutions for under previous and current programmes dating back to the Airbus led MOET project. This will enable the demonstration of hybrid propulsion systems for regional and SMR aircraft that builds on the investment in technologies over recent times where the efforts made under programmes such as e-Fan-X, projects such as IMOTHEP and ORCHESTRA in Horizon2020 and the insights made under the Large Passenger Aircraft IADP projects TRADE, LIFT, H2LSPC and PHiVe in Clean Sky 2 (https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/aerospace/projects/cleansky/index.aspx) have paved the way to give confidence in the advancement of these technologies. We can see with activities under the SAE (https://www.sae.org/publications/collections/content/dlibstd-as) and the SAEL programme (https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/aerospace/projects/sael-initiative/index.aspx) that there will have to be some convergence towards set of electrical architectures and standards based on real scientific insights derived from carrying out intensive research activities. This would be a major achievement that would then provide a stable platform to build future technologies on.

    Q2: The goals and priorities declared in the EPCA SRIA and the Cluster 5 destinations provide some good ambitions, but these ambitions need to be supplemented with legislation to really drive the research agenda to deliver translational impact. The costs of implementing such a seismic shift in the way aircraft are designed, produced and sold requires a drastic change in the supply chain where the SMEs who produce the parts for final assembly and integration into aircraft systems and finally the aircraft itself, need to be given the support required for them to adapt to the new technologies. The structural and socio-economic issues underpinning this need to be considered with parallel programmes to better prepare businesses.

    Hence, the research and technology development programme needs to be accompanied with an approach to certification and development of manufacturing technology to enable a better journey to production of new zero emissions aircraft.

    Currently the community is fragmented and large scale integrated programmes such as the EPCA should be driven towards establishing such consensus.

    Q3: The challenges presented above and the scale of the challenge means that the budget needs to be greater to allow more smaller companies and a diverse range of scientific experts from universities to participate in the programme. The current budget only allows the community to make a small step towards a climate neutral aviation industry in Europe. This needs to go further by also maintaining an open programme based on technical competence such as the wide array of projects funded through calls for proposal in previous incarnations. This will give the project a means of de-risking certain aspects as well as providing the freedom to tailor participation around the technical needs of the programme, not to satisfy arbitrary criteria based on type or location of participant. The success of programme will only be possible through technical collaboration and technical progress, and this should take priority in decision making over what is supported.

    The share of the budget between the Partnership and Cluster 5 needs to be evaluated to maintain a pipeline of future ideas and projects to then develop into the next Clean Aviation Programme. It is clear that EPCA will not solve all the challenges and future programmes will need to build on results of HE Cluster projects and other national and regional projects.

  • Mr. Peter Hotham is Deputy Executive Director at SESAR Joint Undertaking

    Q1: The ambition of the Horizon Europe programme matches the scale of challenges facing Europe and the world today. The programme recognises that in order to deliver smarter and more sustainable air travel and transport, investment in research, innovation and technology is key. With the programme and joint undertaking aviation partnerships, SESAR 3 and Clean Aviation, the goal is to boost investments by pooling private and public resources in order to build industrial leadership and accelerate the twin green and digital transitions.

    The SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking and its programme, the Digital European Sky, aim to further strengthen the Union’s research and the ATM sector, making it more resilient and scalable to fluctuations in traffic, while enabling the seamless operation of all aircraft. The above aims to foster, through innovation, the competitiveness of manned and unmanned air transport, and ATM services’ markets to support economic growth in the Union. Ultimately, the goal is to develop and accelerate the market uptake of innovative solutions to establish the Single European Sky airspace as the most efficient and environmentally friendly sky to fly in the world.

    The SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking expects to deliver and bring to scale a number of ATM innovations over the next ten years in the areas of data-driven automation, virtualisation; dynamic airspace management, drones and urban air mobility, multimodality; and greener flight operations – all critical enablers to delivering on the digital and green agendas.

    Q2: Both the SESAR 3 and Clean Aviation Joint Undertakings will play an essential role in enabling the aviation sector to meet the environmental and mobility ambitions of the European Commission, in particular of the Green Deal. The partnerships will carry out research and development on a number of key innovative technologies addressing decarbonisation, energy transition and digital transformation, both in the air and on the ground.

    What is clear is that to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 as set by the European Green Deal, it is essential to accelerate the shift to smarter and more sustainable mobility. This implies the need for aviation to intensify its efforts to reduce emissions, in line with the targets set in Flightpath 2050. To this end, a set of operational measures to improve the fuel efficiency of flights will have to be put in place. At the same time, to ensure sustainable air traffic growth, it is necessary to speed up the modernisation of the air infrastructure, making it more resilient to future traffic demand and adaptable through more flexible air traffic management procedures and a charging scheme that favours flight efficiency. Furthermore, reducing aircraft noise impact and improving air quality will remain a priority around airports.

    Q3: The Horizon Europe budget is the largest transnational research programme in the world. The funding to be allocated to the SESAR 3 JU (EUR 500 million) will be at least matched by industry and Eurocontrol, bringing the overall envelope to over EUR 1.6 billion, an amount warmly welcomed by the ATM community.

  • Dr. Dietrich Knoerzer is an independent aeronautics consultant in Brussels and a former senior Scientific Officer of the Aviation Unit within the Directorate General for Research & Innovation of the European Commission

    Q1: The needed steps to transforming the civil aviation sector to become climate neutral by 2050 represents the biggest challenge to aviation since the introduction of the jet airliners in the 50ties.

    Within Horizon Europe, the share of funding for aviation related research and innovation is expected to be smaller than in Horizon 2020, even with considering other contributions e. g. from the JUs Fuel Cells & Hydrogen. The resources will by far not be sufficient for reaching the necessary technological progress for contributing to mastering the Climate Change as set in the Paris Climate Agreement. Substantial additional effort will be needed on national level and by the aviation industry itself for ensuring the green future of aviation. And flying will become more expensive.
    By 2030 we need to have solutions for possible ‘show stoppers’ towards a viable path to a climate neutral civil aviation by 2050.

    Q2: While the ACARE Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda (Update 2017) followed still an evolutionary approach in all critical areas towards the ‘Flightpath 2050’ goals, the SRIA of the European Partnership Clean Aviation attempts achieving the goals by technological step changes in different aviation areas. It is likely that the critical technologies for these needed step changes reach a technology readiness level that demonstrates their feasibility, but the big risk is that these cannot be on-time implemented in the next product generation of aircraft and propulsion systems. The ambitious targets of Clean Sky and the reality at the end of Clean Sky 2 lead to the conclusion that more effort and more time will be needed.

    Q3: The aviation related budget within Horizon Europe represents an important contribution for joint European efforts in greening aviation. For sure it is by far not sufficient to undertake all necessary steps that will be needed to achieve sufficient progress for a climate neutral aviation in 2050. The strong dominance of the two European partnerships for aviation (Clean Aviation and SESAR 3) will most likely not leave sufficient budget for the collaborative research in aviation within Cluster 5. Although detailed figures are not yet confirmed, but most likely it will be unbalanced. Already in Horizon 2020 the success rate of proposals submitted to collaborative research was significantly lower than in Clean Sky 2 and SESAR.

    The eminent focus on Clean Aviation and SESAR 3 bear a significant risk for Europe that the elementary necessary research for the aeronautics technology supply chain performed by industry – often SME – and research institutions in multi-national cooperation will be neglected within Horizon Europe. National research funding and inhouse technology development cannot compensate this gap.

  • Mr. Axel Krein is the Executive Director of Clean Sky 2 Joint Undertaking

    Q1: Achieving a climate-neutral fleet by 2050 is fundamental if we want to tackle climate change without compromising the mobility gains and the economic benefits that aviation has brought to Europe. The European Partnership for Clean Aviation, the Single European Sky Partnership and Horizon Europe’s Cluster 5 are making important strides, but the target of climate-neutrality in aviation by 2050 is a tremendous challenge and requires about €12 billion in total funding. The European Partnership for Clean Aviation believes strongly in the power of engaging and connecting all relevant actors to address this challenge – that’s why we engage with both the public and private sector, including SMEs, universities and research centres.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that the aforementioned framework alone will not be sufficient to achieve climate-neutrality in aviation by 2050. We also need the cooperation of national and regional governments, and we must investigate and exploit possible synergies with European structural funds, for instance. Synergies with other technological sectors will be crucial to our success – hydrogen-based technologies such as fuel cells and hydrogen combustion engines in particular will have an important role to play in the transition, and digital technology will become increasingly relevant as we move towards 2050. Only a combined effort of all stakeholders will enable us to reach the target.

    In terms of research achievements, the European Partnership for Clean Aviation expects that decisive steps in new aircraft performance will be demonstrated by 2030. We are exploring many avenues, but will focus on three main thrusts in particular: hybrid electric & full electric concepts, ultra-efficient aircraft architectures, and disruptive technologies to enable hydrogen-powered aircraft.

    A completely new breed of sustainable aircraft will need to enter European fleets by 2035 if we are to reach our climate-neutrality goals. That means that there is no time to waste! We need to start immediately on the development and subsequent demonstration of highly ambitious and revolutionary technologies.

    Q2: The goals of the European Partnership for Clean Aviation Strategic Research & Innovation Agenda are highly ambitious, but nevertheless achievable, if we receive the anticipated support from the European Union and the private European aviation stakeholders.

    Importantly, we are not starting from scratch. The Clean Sky 2 programme, which will conclude in 2024, is the predecessor of the European Partnership for Clean Aviation. Clean Sky 2 has already nurtured a high-performing innovation ecosystem of more than 940 entities from 30 countries, involving the participation of more than 5000 scientists and engineers. This programme has more than 34 flagship demonstrators, and more than 1000 technologies under development, to form the key building blocks for the new Clean Aviation partnership.

    By 2030, the European Partnership for Clean Aviation will have demonstrated a range of sustainable aviation technologies, specifically designed for application in regional and short-/medium range aircraft. The demonstrated technologies must then enter Europe’s fleet by 2035 at the latest. A ‘clean sheet’ aircraft design in the regional and short-/medium range segments can not only make a hugely positive contribution to aviation’s climate impact, but these segments are also where the biggest opportunity lies.

    A massive 2/3 of emissions are produced on city-pairs and routes less than 4000km in distance, and 1/3 on flights of less than 1500 km. It is therefore logical when deciding where to start, that we focus on technologies for regional and short-/mid-range aircraft.

    A worldwide fleet of over 50,000 aircraft will need to be replaced by 2035. The opportunity to deliver significantly cleaner aviation is huge, given that aircraft developed in the meantime are likely to constitute over 75% of the world’s commercial airline fleet by 2050, thus having a major impact on aviation emissions and climate impact.

    Q3: We estimate that an overall investment of €12 billion into research and innovation in Europe is needed before 2030 to propel aviation into climate neutrality by 2050. If you consider that the public investment in the European Partnership for Clean Aviation will total €1.7 billion within this timeframe, you can see that this is only a part of the puzzle.

    We therefore need complementary initiatives from the European Union, from national governments, regional governments, and of course the private sector, to reach our goal. Those initiatives need to be well aligned and closely connected with each other via a so-called Innovation Architecture in order to effectively deliver the required outcomes.

    To this end, the Clean Sky 1&2 Joint Undertakings have already developed strong relationships with regional governments to leverage structural funding towards sustainable aviation goals, and the European Partnership for Clean Aviation will build on and complement this work to ensure a highly efficient and streamlined European framework for sustainable aviation.

  • Ir. Joris Melkert, Associate Professor and Director of Education of the Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at Delft University of Technology

    Q1: I would say this is a necessary but probably not sufficient condition. Looking at the challenge we face, probably going back to a 3-5% growth per year for aviation worldwide with an efficiency increase of only 1-1.5% per year we still have a diverging problem. We need to make a couple of step changes here. Furthermore considering that phasing in new aircraft and phasing out old aircraft takes roughly 20-25 years, it is not difficult to predict that by 2040 we will still be flying the current generation of aircraft (A320NEO, B73Max, B787, A350, etc.). This is just not going fast enough. As for the research by 2030 we must have found a solution for climate neutral flight at TRL9 level (aircraft + fuels + operations). By then we should be ready for phasing in this solution.

    Q2: For this it holds the same. The proposed goals are necessary but probably not coming soon enough.

    Q3: I fear that this is by far insufficient to make the necessary steps towards climate neutral aviation. Just consider that the design and development of a new aircraft nowadays has a price tag of 10-15 billion euro. An overall budget of ~4 billion euro in Clean Aviation will not get us there. Remember that we don’t need to develop only one new aircraft but we need to develop a series of whole new aircraft. From small regional single aisle aircraft all the way to long range wide body aircraft. We are talking about at least 3-4 different aircraft types to be developed. The major question is whether there will be enough industry funding available to bridge the gap. With only two main aircraft manufacturers remaining in the world and a pretty balanced order book between the two for the coming decade, this may not be happening. This makes me very nervous because if we don’t manage to solve this, we will lose our “license to operate”.

  • Prof. Spiros Pantelakis is the Honorary Chairman of the European Aeronautics Science Network Association (EASN) and Professor Emeritus at the University of Patras

    Q1: At first, we need to agree on what is needed to be achieved by 2030 The recent mega fires in Europe, as for example in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, but also outside of Europe, as for example in Africa, US and Australia, as well as the wild fires in Siberia and the catastrophic floods in Central Europe, are making evident that the climate change is not a potential threat of the future. The climate change is already here and we are already experiencing its consequences. Therefore, at first, we need to agree on what is needed to be achieved by 2030 in order to meet the challenge of a climate neutral, economically and ecologically sustainable and circular Aviation by 2050.

    The main achievements we may expect on the base of Horizon Europe, is an evolutionary progress towards a more ecological Aviation, by developing hybrid electric airplanes, increasing the Technological Readiness Level of the use of Hydrogen as a fuel up to demonstration and achieving a sufficient level of digitalization in manufacturing and operating aircrafts including the optimization of their traffic management. Yet, I am afraid we no longer have the luxury of keeping the progress in Aviation evolutionary. What is needed are revolutionary solutions, obviously without compromising safety and economical sustainability. It is a huge task. I am happy that ACARE is currently working on revising the Flightpath 2050 and I am confident that the research needs as well as the targets for the next decades will be properly recognized and well defined.

    Q2: As mentioned, we need revolutionary solutions. They should include revolutionary aircraft configurations and concepts, no-polluting fuels accounting not only for the demand for zero emissions but also for the protection of the ozon shield when operating at high altitudes, new fully recyclable materials or technologies allowing to recycle the currently non recyclable thermosetting composites and hence to introduce circularity in Aviation at affordable cost, revolutionary multi-modal transport concepts, etc. As we all know, the lead time of disruptive innovations in Aviation might take up to 30 years. This means that in order to meet the revolutionary goal of the environmentally neutral, sustainable and circular Aviation by 2050, we should start working on the revolutionary innovations already needed right now. The current research and innovations agendas of the aviation relevant Joint Undertakings, as well as the priorities set in Cluster 5 for Aviation, are without a doubt setting demanding targets and raising expectations for high impact. Achieving their goals will be a significant achievement. Yet, the required room for radical, out of the box, revolutionary solutions, which are, in my view, urgently needed, can be hardly found therein.

    Q3: Given the technological way we have to go in order to meet the challenges discussed above, I am afraid that the budget assigned by the European Commission for Aviation research is not sufficient, despite the fact of exploiting synergies with other JUs and Clusters such as the JUs for Hydrogen, Batteries, Made in Europe, the Cluster 4 etc. Yet, even bigger than the problem of limited funds, is the share of funds between maturing and demonstrating technologies and the funds for developing disruptive innovation. It is sad that the Commission has excluded from the Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda of the European Partnership Clean Aviation the very thoroughly and in-detail elaborated pillar for exploring and maturing new disruptive innovation in the frame of EPCA. As a consequence, the space for developing disruptive innovation has been “squeezed” into a few calls in Cluster 5. I sincerely hope that the need for facilitating the development of the urgently needed disruptive innovations will be recognized and faced at the political level.

  • Prof. Andreas Strohmayer is the Chairman of the European Aeronautics Science Network Association (EASN) and Head of the Department of Aircraft Design in the Institute of Aircraft Design (IFB), at the University of Stuttgart

    Q1: The framework has been set up to directly respond to the challenges set lastly in the Green Deal. In order to achieve the ambitious goals set for the aviation sector, it is of outmost importance that not only each of the work programmes and partnerships works in a very focussed way towards climate neutrality, but that also a close interconnection is built between these tools. Only in doing so we will see meaningful demonstrators at aircraft level towards the end of this decade that can pave the way for competitive European products by 2035 ate the earliest.

    Q2: A huge effort has been put in the course of the last two years by all stakeholder in the aviation system to define detailed roadmaps in the respective fields which allow for a transformation of air transport to a more sustainable system. As stated before, even when considering accelerated development cycles still to be realized in our sector, this will lead to products by 2035 at the earliest. Given the renewal cycles in the market, real impact for sure will materialize late. But in this context, I would like to remind you that for an alternative scenario where we would decide to go on with business as usual or – even worse – to wait for a miraculous game changer, it will be definitely too late for 2050.

    Q3: Speaking for Clean Aviation, as the goal is to reach demonstration at a meaningful size in three different thrusts, i.e. short-medium range aircraft, hybrid-electric regional and hydrogen technologies, the budget allocated to these ambitious roadmaps is tight at least. In the preparation of this partnership, a significant effort went into the definition of an upstream research pillar, then called “Explore & Mature”, where basically all required underlying aircraft technologies required for a disruptive systems change were collected and described. This pillar was separated from the Clean Aviation SRIA, but as the preparation timelines of Clean Aviation and Work Programmes were not in phase, this work was only marginally taken up by the Cluster 5 Work Programme. Here we can see a huge gap between upstream research and demonstration. In order to “heal” this deficiency, it could be a good strategy to revive the concept of Thematic Topics, successfully implemented towards the end of Clean Sky 2.

  • Mrs. Gioia Venturini is Director, Vice-President for International Cooperation and Public Affairs R&T and Innovation of SAFRAN Group

    Q1: The answer to this question is not straightforward. A paradigm change, which is what is expected for aviation to be decarbonized, is not the result of a single technological willingness or choice, but a complex interaction among politics, economics, sciences and public acceptance/social behaviors. Horizon Europe tackles one aspect of this complex interaction, the scientific and technological one. But alone, it cannot be the panacea. The Clean Aviation SRIA, for example, reflects strategic choices that were made by the aeronautic community together with the EU Commission in a co-creation approach. These strategic choices have been considered to be the most relevant to achieve the 30% emission reduction by 2030, as required by the Single Basic Act. Consequently, only the short and medium range and the regional segments are considered within the perimeter of Clean Aviation, not all the aviation sector. However, breakthroughs in ultra-efficiency, H2 and hybridization technologies will spill over to other aviation segments in the longer run and maybe entail a reshuffle of market segmentation, heading eventually toward more fragmentation and tailored-made solutions. Similarly, eventually switching to a new source of energy, namely H2, will entail a deep change in handling production, distribution, infrastructures, MRO…which are beyond what a whatever ambitious EU research program can tackle. Therefore, Horizon Europe and its aviation partnerships (EPCA, SESAR) are necessary and essential bricks towards the decarbonisation of aviation, but certainly not sufficient to implement the change. A considerable burden is on the shoulders of EU and EU Member States’ politicians to allow the technologies developed within Clean Aviation and Sesar to be fully up taken by the market in the most competitive way.

    Q2: As mentioned above, a paradigm change is not just a matter of switching on or off a button (kerosen based economy/H2-multi energy based economy). In every systemic change, acting on one aspect has consequences on a series of other aspects, which cannot always be anticipated. The priorities set in EU aviation JUs were carefully debated and assessed, based on present scientific and technological knowledge while anticipating a radical change. To this perspective, Clean Aviation and SESAR 3 are the best compromise EU could reach to trigger the necessary “green revolution” of the aviation sector. These JUs are the stepping stones of a series of technological revolutions, which will lead eventually to a climate neutral and circular aviation life-cycle by 2050. The whole aviation sector is 100% committed on this target and, generally speaking, engineers and researchers love complex challenges that happen once in a lifetime. The present generation of scientist and engineers will have to face a huge responsibility to deliver the right technologies on time to curb the climate derailment. However, one aspect that will be fundamental to reach the desired decarbonisation target is monitoring. Scientific and technological investigation together with careful budgeting will not be sufficient to hit the target if steering is not fuelled with relevant monitoring feedback. Such feedback should occur at technological level to assess the progress in research investigation and certification, but also at “political, legal and financial framework” level to assess whether the relevant decision-making processes are implemented to welcome the paradigm change and make it effective.

    Q3: In general, financial resources are always limited. They are very often a constraint from the very beginning. However, this could be turned into a challenge and a virtuous spiral whereby the technological challenges to address must also find a « financially competitive » solution. In my perspective, the availability of financial resources is an accelerator as additional funds would allow to go faster, but maybe not higher. Budget constraints also have a beneficial effect of setting priorities, resulting into a more focused and robust research program. But international scientific competition is blurring the level playing field as some countries have, de facto, more budget availability than EU. In that perspective, investing more in EU research would guarantee future EU competitiveness, and, with the EU ambition to become the first CO2 free continent by 2050, setting the pace in aviation (which is one of the hardest sectors to decarbonise) would comfort the EU in its « green leadership » role at world level. Hence, the budget share among Cluster 5 is not the real issue, as what should be tackled is the total funding availability for research, and for aviation research more specifically. Budget share should always be read as a political message, it puts emphasis on what is more desirable or what is harder to achieve. In this perspective, considering the funding amount attributed to Clean Aviation and SESAR 3, there was a recognition of both the necessity and the difficulty of decarbonizing aviation. But as recalled before, choices have been made in the technological roadmaps, thus the available budget will only allow to deliver a portion of what is necessary to fully decarbonise aviation. Hopefully, future aeronautic research programs will bring the necessary complement to what will be initiated under Horizon Europe.

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