The importance of Air Transport
Free movement of people and goods is one of the fundamental freedoms of the EU. Europe’s transport policy continues to suffer from an imbalance in the utilization of the different modes of transport and of the absence of efficient European coordination platforms and of systemic vectors.
Air transport is the main activity which has transformed our society in the last 100 years by “shrinking the planet” with large economic and social benefits through the world.
Air traffic has definitely recovered after the temporary slowdown following the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 and the downturn of the world economy in general. It is estimated that air traffic will have a progressive increase over the next 10 years. The traffic increase and the reduction of costs for tickets require a permanent emphasis on safety, efficiency and environmental issues.
European Aeronautics Industry Overview
Aeronautics and Air Transport sector is a key strategic economic domain in Europe. The European aeronautics industry is currently a fundamental player in the global market, with high competition levels on a global scale (USA, Brazil, Russia, India, and China).
The European Air Transport sector, made up of civil Aeronautics and Air Transport, generates a turnover in excess of 94 billion € and employs almost half a million highly skilled people directly plus high levels of spin-out technology and employment in other sectors. Indirect jobs attributed to air transport related activities can thus be considered much higher and produce a contribution of about 240 billion € to gross domestic product.
Present Air Transport Scenario
The evolution of the most diffused aeronautic concepts (defined during and after World War II) has now reached maturity. Air vehicles with enhanced performance, increased cargo capacity, reduced consumption of energy resources and lowered environmental impacts could be possible by further evolution of traditional concepts, but expected gains appear reduced if compared to the associated costs.
Even if Kondratieff and Schumpeter Cyclic theory is not universally accepted, the actual macroeconomic scenario can be identified with the depressive part of a technological wave. Maturity is leading to a competition based on prices, causing an economic slowdown in rich countries, shifting the industrial production to emerging countries with lower cost and increasing unemployment and concentration of richness.
These symptoms can be clearly identified with a depressive moment of a long term technological wave of a Kondratieff cycle, leading to economical, social and political instability due to the reduction of wellness.
In this scenario novel technologies are needed to start a future expansive economic cycle. E.C. through 7 F.P. 2012 has introduced the novel level 0 projects, which aims to encourage the research about the radical step change required for air transport in the second half of this century and beyond.
History of European Air Transport Policy
EU direction was defined through a novel green European scenario in 1992. This direction leads to the communication “Air Transport and the Environment” (1999). The Lisbon Strategy (2000) aims to make Europe the “most competitive and the most dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”. It generates the “Vision 2020” report and the EU’s Transport White Paper “Environmental certification of aircraft, their parts and appliances” (2003), which defines the rules for the airworthiness and environmental certification of aircraft and establishes a new certification system under the authority of the EASA.
The communication “Aviation and Climate Change” (2005) analyses the available options for reducing the impact of air transport on climate change, encourages innovation and includes air transport in the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme. This direction has been reinforced by “Reducing climate change impact of aviation” (December 2005).
“Europe 2020: a European strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth” (2010) aims to enhance the EU’s growth potential and deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion, influencing also aerospace policies.