European Union to fund major aviation research initiatives

The four large and 32 smaller projects will conduct research in varied areas, such as using flight physics and alternative fuels to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for aircraft, and developing new systems to improve aircraft safety in bad weather.

Other exotic areas will include developing aircraft materials that can repair themselves, and creating blast-proof aircraft cabin structures. Other projects will seek ways of reducing production and development costs for airframes, aircraft structures, engines and components.

The European Commission (the European Union''s administrative body) received 196 proposals after issuing a call earlier this year for research proposals in aeronautics and air transport. After short-listing 89 of these, independent evaluators eventually selected the 36 most promising ones to receive funding.

All of the projects are expected to start in January 2008.

The EU is funding them under its Seventh Framework Program for Research (FP7), which will make available a total of euros 2.1 billion ($2.98 billion) for aeronautics research in the period from 2007 to 2013. The first batch of 36 projects now selected will receive euros 217 million ($308 million).

Four major projects