Research is the lifeblood of the aeronautics sector. The aeronautics, defence and security industries invest billions of euro every year to ensure that continuous research leads to game-changing advanced materials, systems and structures. Research provides tomorrow's answers to today's challenges: the reduction of emissions (notably CO2 and noise), a better management of the exponentially growing Air Traffic and the need for being more competitive on a global scale.
For industry, Research & Technology (R&T) concerns the design, feasibility studies, and maturation processes for technologies. The readiness of a technology is scaled through different levels (Technology Readiness Levels - TRLs). The higher in the scale, the more mature the product is, and it is deemed ready for market at TRL 9. In the aeronautics sector, research cycles are extremely long, for example, an aircraft's journey from its conception to its commercialisation typically takes fifteen to twenty years.
The European Union has shown unprecedented commitments to support research by setting up the Horizon 2020 programme and has pledged to further increase its support through its next programme Horizon Europe (2021-2027).
H2020 supports aeronautics and security research through its societal challenges and notably thanks to flagship programs such as "Clean Sky" and "SESAR" Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).
Clean Sky develops innovative cutting-edge technology aimed at reducing CO2, gas emissions and noise levels produced by airplanes and helicopters. To this end, more than 30 main demonstrators are being developed at a very high technological maturity level. Clean Sky 1 results confirmed a potential decrease of 32% for CO2 emission and 50% to 86% for noise. These will be crystallised as the Clean Sky 1 technologies are applied to commercial products.
SESAR aims at developing state-of-the-art technologies for European Air Traffic Management (ATM) to optimize flight paths, both in terms of security and energy-efficiency. As the technological pillar of Europe’s Single European Sky initiative, SESAR is the mechanism which coordinates and concentrates all EU research and development (R&D) activities in ATM, pooling together a wealth of experts to develop the new generation of ATM.
The ASD Research and Technology Commission (RTC) gathers companies’ experts to coordinate the long-term Research & Technology strategy. Taking in consideration the specificities of ASD sectors long and costly research cycles, the RTC analyses European research policies to promote industry’s longstanding experience in both incremental and disruptive Research and Innovation.
The RTC is a privileged interlocutor for the European institutions on R&I topics. It voices the industry’s messages, notably in the perspective of Horizon Europe, and the preparation of future PPPs. The RTC consists both of direct company members and National Associations' representatives. It is currently chaired by Marco Protti from Leonardo and vice-chaired by Uwe Hessler from Rolls-Royce and Christian Picollet from Safran.