Conference Report: AERONAUTICS DAYS 2006 in Vienna - Europe's Aeronautics Industry Takes Off!

bridges vol. 10, June 2006 / noteworthy information

by Andreas Geisler

Aero_logo_finalAir Transport is a vital asset for Europe's economic and social prosperity. The aeronautics sector contributes about €500 billion to the EU GNP every year. It employs 3.1 million people, representing 1.9 percent of all EU jobs. Aeronautics exports amount to 60 percent of the industry's turnover, generating a trade surplus of €2.2 billion and, with a fleet of about 5000 aircraft, European airlines transport 1 billion people every year.


{access view=guest}Access to the full article is free, but requires you to register. Registration is simple and quick - all we need is your name and a valid e-mail address. We appreciate your interest in bridges.{/access} {access view=!guest}This unmitigated success for the industry is a direct result of its pioneering R&D-oriented approach. With its longstanding experience in cooperative and international research and its proud history of scientific and technological excellence, the aeronautics industry itself is now seen as a model for the larger European "knowledge-based society" that the Union is so urgently seeking to achieve.

conference_participants_capIn keeping with the size, importance, and success of the European aeronautics industry, the European Commission and the Austrian EU Presidency organized a premier-level event in the form of the Aeronautics Days 2006 Conference.

Following in the steps of successful predecessors in Brussels (1991), Naples (1993), Toulouse (1997), and Hamburg (2001), this Fifth Community Aeronautics Days took place on June 19-21, 2006, in Vienna, Austria, and brought aeronautics stakeholders from all over Europe including Russia and the Ukraine, from the Americas, and from Asia, to network, present results, and discuss common future R&D projects. The Fifth Community Aeronautics Days 2006 was a platform for exchanging the latest research results and best practices in aeronautics on an international level.

Highlights included high-level speakers coming from industry and politics, technical excursions providing an up-close look at the latest in aeronautics technological innovation, and a state-of-the-art exhibition. Further highlights of the Aeronautics Days were the reception at the Art History Museum on Monday and the reception at the city hall of Vienna, aimed at allowing key players and industry newcomers to mix and get to know each other.

Aeronautics Days 2006 was a major, world-level forum for information exchange and dissemination of EU-funded RTD results, fully in-line with the Union goals of creating an open and coordinated European Research Area, a Single European Sky, and enabling efficient mobility throughout Europe and the world.

The key to securing these objectives is investment in research and technology, following a strategy that can meet the demands of the market as well as the needs of the community.

Opening Session
At the Opening Session on Monday, June 19, 2006, Mr Knut Consemüller as Chairperson, Mr. Eduard Mainoni (Secretary of State, Austrian Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation, and Technology BMVIT), Janez Potočnik (European Commissioner for Science and Research), Jorgo Chatzimarkakis (Member of the European Parliament), Paul Rübig (Member of the European Parliament), Charles Edelstenne (Chairman-Elect of Aerospace and Defense Industries Association of Europe and CEO Dassault Aviation), Joachim Szodruch (ACARE Co-Chairman, President of DGLR, and EREA Vice-Chairman), and Victor Aguado (Director General, Eurocontrol) opened the Aeronautics Days in Vienna at the Reed Messe Vienna and informed about 850 guests about the demands aeronautic industries must cope with in the future to play a role in a more globalized world market.

Janez_Potocnik_caption Mr Janez Potočnik's speech underlined the importance of aviation research in the transport sector. Financing the 7th Framework Program with nearly €4.2 billion, research in aeronautics will have an important role. He recognized Austria, which has increased its turnover in aeronautics from €30 million in 1988 to €500 million in 2006. Mr Potočnik was confident that Aeronautics Days 2006 will provide a thought-provoking and useful exchange of ideas, providing valuable opportunities for collaboration and networking. The event will help us take stock of what has been accomplished so far, while looking to the challenges and solutions that lie ahead for European Aeronautics and Air Transport.

At the congress, the new instrument, CLEAN SKY, was presented. Clean Sky, a Joint Technology Initiative, is aimed to support R&D in reducing environmental impacts, e.g., in lowering noise and emissions.

Mr. Mainoni, State Secretary, underlined the need to reach the Lisbon Aim by increasing R&D expenses to 3 percent of the national GNP. Research is an indicator for growth, jobs, and economic health. In recent years, participation of Austrian aeronautic industries in the European Framework Programs is increasing and has a success rate of 53 percent relative to our contribution to the EU budget, compared to the European average of 39 percent. Beginning with the 4th EU Framework Program, Austria had only one contribution. Several years later, in the 6th EU Framework Program Austria contributes to 30 projects.

Parallel to these developments, Austria has made some structural changes:

  • The Austrian Aeronautic Industries has been founded - a member of the ASD (AeroSpace and Defense Industries Association of Europe)
  • A university of applied sciences for Aviation has been founded in Graz (FH Joanneum Graz)
  • The Austrian Research Centers have become an associated member of EREA (Association of European Research Establishments in Aeronautics)
  • The Austrian Aeronautics Research Network has been built up for developments in the area of lightweight materials
  • Austrian representatives are on the Airbus Intergovernmental Committee and work with the Strategic Research Agenda in ACARE (Advisory Council for Aeronautics).
  • A national program, TAKE OFF, has been built up to support national R&D, certification, and networking.
  • Finally, Austria is participating in an ERA-Net AirTN for creating a Common European Research Area.

Meanwhile, in Austria we have about 50 companies working in the aerospace sector. Most companies are organized in the Austrian Aeronautics Industries Group (AAIG) with 36 members and in the Association of Austrian Space Industries with 11 members to coordinate lobbying and to influence the leadership in technological niches.

After the Opening Session, the topics during the Aeronautical Days 2006 in the plenary sessions were:


Social Program
Rathaus_Vienna_caption After the last Parallel Session on Monday, June 19, 2006, Rolls-Royce and the Austrian Presidency invited participants to a reception at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. Guests had the opportunity to visit part of the museum's collections, ranging from ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman antiquities to medieval art and the splendid Renaissance and Baroque collections.
After the last Parallel Session on Tuesday, June 20, 2006, a banquet was held at the Vienna City Hall. The mayor of Vienna and the Austrian Presidency of the European Council hosted a gala dinner with musical accompaniment.

A state-of-the-art exhibition was among the highlights of Aeronautics Days 2006. Hi-tech displays, demonstrations, and information stands covered every aspect of current aeronautics R&D, with special emphasis on the added value of coordination within the European Research Area (ERA).

Achievements of Community-funded Aeronautics Research under the EU's Fifth and Sixth Research Framework Programs were presented, with displays citing specific and significant contributions to the future aeronautics and air transport technology base.

Themes included:

  • Pioneering the Air Transport of the future;
  • Improving cost and time efficiency;
  • Greening of Air Transport;
  • Customer satisfaction, safety, and security.

airplane_caption The exhibition also provided clear information and insights into future developments and opportunities, with information on the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE), whose Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) remains the primary guide for future EU research - and a preview of the Union's next Framework Program, FP7, set to be launched in 2007.

More exhibition highlights were:

  • Austrian industry and research institutions;
  • European Commission and the Seventh Research Framework Program;
  • European Aeronautics Research multipliers;
  • New EU Member States - aeronautics capabilities;
  • Student forum and competition.

Aeronautics Days - Student Project Competition
As an integral part of the Aeronautics Days 2006, a Student Project Competition was organized, providing the student members an educational experience of European dimension that would prepare them for the future as practicing aeronautical researchers and engineers. More than 40 projects from 14 European countries were selected by a European jury. The projects were presented by posters in the exhibition and by corresponding short presentations in special student sessions. The work, both written and oral, was evaluated by professional members of a jury board, with the primary intent of providing substantial feedback on the quality of the work. The three highest-scoring projects in the undergraduate and graduate category were recognized with the Aerodays 2006 Students Awards.

Closing Session
Ingolf Schädler (Deputy Director General for Innovation, Austrian Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation, and Technology BMVIT) as the chairman, Eduard Mainoni (Secretary of State, Austrian Federal Ministry of Transport, Innovation, and Technology BMVIT), Krzysztof Jan Kurzydlowski (Undersecretary of State, Polish Ministry of Education and Science), Zoran Stančič (Deputy Director General for Research, European Commission), François Quentin (Co-Chairman of ACARE and Senior Vice President Aerospace, THALES), Alain García (Executive Vice President Engineering, Airbus S.A.S.), and Ric Parker (Director of Research and Technology, Rolls-Royce) were the high level speakers for the closing session.

The following questions were posed to all the speakers:

Against the background of rising global competition in the aeronautic industry, how can Europe maintain its leading role in this important sector?

Given the increasing importance of issues such as sustainability, environmental protection, and energy efficiency, does the European aeronautics industry and research fabric address these issues by the right means and sufficient effort?

Does Europe approach the issues of congestion threat and safety and security in a satisfactory manner?

Collaboration in aeronautics was a gain for Europe. What are the main pressing topics to enhance it and to improve its efficiency?

After the Closing Session, Mr. Ingolf Schädler invited the Aeronautics Days participants to take part in the excursions to several locations:

Excursion 1:
Diamond Aircraft Industries - General Aviation Aircraft Manufacturer Wiener Neustadt

Excursion 2:
Modern Aircraft Maintenance - Austrian Airlines - Aircraft Maintenance Center Schwechat-Airport, Vienna

Excursion 3:

Innovative Avionics Technology for Optimized Aircraft Efficiency, TTTech Vienna

Excursion 4:
Aerospace Materials Technology Testhouse & Research Network - Austrian Research Centers Seibersdorf{/access}