More Background

In their January 2001 report ‘European Aeronautics: a Vision for 2020′, the Group of Aeronautics Personalities set a goal for Europe to become the uncontested world leader in aeronautics by 2020.

Reducing the environmental impact of emissions and noise in air transport is an important element in achieving the overall goals of European aeronautics research. Vision 2020 and the subsequent Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) gave directions for European research to meet the expected growth in air transportation while satisfying the requirements for environmental sustainability.

This required a collaborative effort, guided by a single shared vision, and this was achieved by creating a common framework for research and development. ECATS took responsibility for developing the research framework focusing on the environmental sustainability and competitiveness of air transportation.

Consolidation of resources

In the past decade, European research into the environmental impact of air transport has been done in a fragmented way. For example, engineering sciences have researched combustion and aeronautics while atmospheric sciences have studied the impact of aviation on the earth’s climate. Because of the diverse disciplines involved, many investigations were duplicated and progress made in one scientific area was not exploited by others.

Driven mainly by the European Thematic Network AERONET, the different approaches converged. However, it was also acknowledged that a scientifically sound and internationally competitive European research structure was needed to integrate all the relevant scientific activities involved.  It was recognised too that in-depth integration of the available European-wide resources would further improve the competitiveness of the European aeronautics industry.

Because research establishments were originally organised nationally, extensive research infrastructures exist in parallel in a number of European countries. ECATS is promoting the consolidation of the research infrastructures for aeronautics, thus strengthening European excellence in this area and Europe’s role in the international community – in for example the determination of world wide regulations and air quality standards.

From this starting point the Network of Excellence (NoE) ECATS was brought to life in 2005, to harmonise and integrate European research. The ECATS Network of Excellence and a total of 12 partners including both research establishments and universities from 7 European states worked together to jointly develop an “Environmentally Compatible Air Transport System”. Partners within the Network of Excellence comprise of Deutsches Zentrum fĂĽr Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR), Office National d’Etudes et Recherches AĂ©ro-spatiales (ONERA), Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), University of Sheffield (USFD), Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), University of Oslo (UiO), University of Wuppertal (BUW), National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), University of Patras (UP), the National Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

 Good progress in consolidation has been achieved in the meantime. After 5 years of joint research and exploring closer collaboration, the ECATS Network of Excellence has been transformed into ECATS International Association, officially registered as of 2 November 2010 by [Royal Decree] of Belgium.

 The consolidation process nevertheless continues and involves the further development and integration of durable structures and procedures for collaboration and communication. The aim is to further overcome fragmentation of research on the environmental impact of aviation within Europe and provide answers to research issues that are still open or not sufficiently well clarified. It should prepare the ground for a virtual European institute of the highest standard for research into the impact of air transport on the environment.

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