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Brussels, 20 June 2007

Development of environmentally friendly technologies for the Air Transport System: the Clean Sky Initiative

Proposed today by the European Commission, Clean Sky aims to create a radically innovative Air Transport System centred on the reduction of the environmental impact of air transport through reduction of noise and gaseous emissions, and improvement of the fuel economy of aircraft for the benefit of society at large. Clean Sky will embody a new approach to research financing at the European level, bringing together public and private funds, involving industry, SMEs, and non-profit research institutions. Clean Sky was identified as a candidate Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) when the EU's 7th Research Framework programme was launched at the beginning of 2007. JTIs involve public-private partnerships at European level in key areas where research and technological development can contribute to Europe's wider growth objectives.

What is the goal of Clean Sky?

Clean Sky aims to develop advanced technologies for the next generation of aircraft in order to establish an innovative and competitive Air Transport System. Through the development of full scale demonstrators, Clean Sky will perform an overall assessment of individual technologies at the fleet level, thus ensuring earliest possible deployment of its research results. The activity will cover all main flying segments of the Air Transport System and the associated underlying technologies identified in the Strategic Research Agenda for Aeronautics developed by the Aeronautics Technology Platform ACARE.

Clean Sky will be built upon 6 different technical areas called Integrated Technology Demonstrators (ITDs), which will perform preliminary studies and select research areas, then lead large-scale demonstrations either on the ground or in-flight, in order to bring innovative technologies to a maturity level where they can be applied to new generation “green aircraft”. The JTI will ensure that there are links between the various ITDs and that they exchange information and results. The ITDs are:

  • The SMART fixed wing aircraft ITD, focused on active wing technologies that sense the airflow and adapt their shape as required, as well as on new aircraft configurations to optimally incorporate these novel wing concepts.
  • The Green Regional Aircraft ITD, focused on low-weight configurations and technologies using smart structures, low-noise configurations and the integration of technology developed in other ITDs, such as engines, energy management and new configurations.
  • The Green Rotorcraft ITD, focused on innovative rotor blades and engine installation for noise reduction, lower airframe drag, diesel engine and electrical systems for fuel consumption reduction and environmentally friendly flight paths.
  • The Sustainable and Green Engine ITD will integrate technologies for low noise and lightweight low pressure systems, high efficiency, low NOx and low weight core, novel configurations such as open rotors or intercoolers.
  • The Systems for Green Operations ITD will focus on all-electric aircraft equipment and systems architectures, thermal management, capabilities for “green” trajectories and mission and improved ground operations.
  • The Eco-Design ITD will address the full life cycle of materials and components, focusing on issues such as optimal use of raw materials, decreasing the use of non-renewable materials, natural resources, energy, the emission of noxious effluents and recycling.

Clean Sky will also have a Technology Evaluator, whose role is to assess the contribution that the research results in the 6 areas will make to the environmental objectives of the programme.

Why does Europe need Clean Sky?

As concern rises about climate change, the aeronautics industry needs to makes its contribution to reducing emissions, and also to minimising noise around airports. Air transport is currently a relatively small source of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions contributing to global warming, but its share will increase in line with the expected build-up of air traffic. The environmental challenge requires immediate action to promote the development of clean transport technologies.

In addition, the European aeronautics industry is faced with strong competition worldwide, both from traditional competitors and new ones in emerging economies. The US industry and government heavily invest in aeronautics R&D. The role of public support is of primary importance. On December 20th 2006, the US Government issued an Executive Order establishing the US first Aeronautics Research and Development Policy. At the same time other competitors have emerged in recent years such as Brazil. Russia, China, and India.

Clean Sky will provide an operational R&D framework to combine the benefits of European integration with fast adaptation to industrial goals and policies and flexible participation. A focused and coherent industrial R&D programme that is able to draw on all sources of R&D investment (public and private) at European level will translate into effective and timely exploitation of results. Progress will be helped by better coordination of industrial R&D objectives, avoiding duplication of effort, unnecessary bureaucracy, and suboptimal use of limited research funding. Traditional EU collaborative research instruments cannot achieve the co-ordination of research efforts necessary to cope with the scale and complexity of the research challenges involved.

What is the importance of Clean Sky?

Clean Sky will include all major aeronautical players ("primes") in Europe. The initial membership includes close to hundred organisations active in aeronautical R&D and includes a large participation of SMEs, Research Centres and Universities. It is foreseen that Clean Sky will have a strong leverage effect on R&D activities at European and national level, thus building up on the overall EU research capacity and providing an important "additionality" effect at the Community level.

Clean Sky will mitigate the different types of market failure which discourage private investment in aeronautics research generally and clean Air Transport technologies in particular. It provides integration and demonstration at the full-system level, thus decreasing the risk for private investment in developing new environment-friendly aeronautics products. It applies an innovative integrated multidisciplinary approach, covering the full scope of aeronautics technologies, thus enabling economies of scale and allowing the broad scope of EU aeronautics R&D to be fully exploited.

Clean Sky is a project of common European interest as it contributes in a substantial way to achieving Europe’s strategic environmental and social priorities, in combination with sustainable economic growth.

What is the budget for Clean Sky?

Once agreed, Clean Sky will receive an EU contribution of up to €800 million from the EU's 7th Research Framework Programme. This will be matched by funds from industry, leading to a total budget of up to €1.6 billion.

Who will make the decisions once Clean Sky is up and running?

The Commission has proposed that the executive bodies of the Clean Sky Joint Undertaking shall be the Executive Board (composed of the European Community represented by the European Commission and the founding members, i.e. the major aeronautical primes and a leading Research Centre), the Executive Office headed by the JU Director and the ITD Steering Committees. The Clean Sky management structure includes two additional groups: a General Forum representing all participating organisations to R&D activities and an Advisory body to the Board and Office. The JTI also sets up, as an external monitoring body, the National States Representative Group and it will maintain close contacts with ACARE, the Aeronautics research technology platform.

Who will participate in Clean Sky?

The research activities will be conducted by the JTI members and additional partners selected via open Calls for Proposals. These will be complemented by support activities conducted by organisations selected via Calls for Tender, open to any legal entity eligible to participate in Framework Programme activities. Beyond the initial participants, other members may be selected in the future, which would mean participation of a few hundred organisations during the initial activity period of seven years (2007-2013).

For more information on Joint Technology Initiatives:


For more information on Clean Sky:

The Strategic Research Agenda:

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