Before we can actually look at the specifics of Clean Sky, we have to make a slight detour. Actually we need to rewind the clock back 16 years.
Back in 2000 the European Commission set up the Advisory Council for Aviation Research and innovation in Europe (ACARE) in order to provide design guidelines that could be commonly accepted across Europe's aviation sector as a basis for moving the industry towards greener standards.
It launched at the Paris Air Show in June 2001 with a mix of over forty member organisations and associations including stakeholders across manufacturing industry, airports, airlines, regulators, service providers, research establishments and academia.
ACARE was tasked with identifying long-term objectives for the European aeronautical industry in areas of environment, industrial competitiveness and societal benefits, and its members were selected from industry, research centres and academia, mandated with developing a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) for European aeronautics.
The original SRA was, as ACARE describes it "a roadmap outlining the strategic orientations which should be taken if Europe is to meet society's needs for aviation as a public mode of transport as well as noise and emissions reduction requirements in a sustainable way". This was intended to meet Vision 2020, a set of goals set up around the same time as the inception of ACARE, and later superseded in 2011 by Flightpath 2050, together with its own associated Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) in 2012, building upon the previous one with updated objectives.
ACARE and Flightpath 2050 are part of a comprehensive family of initiatives in aeronautics and air transport including the EC’s Framework Programme research FP6, FP7 and Horizon 2020, as well as the SESAR Joint Undertaking.
SESAR has in its sights the implementation of the Single European Sky initiative, the aim of which is to overcome the current fragmentation of European air space, aiming at increased safety and more efficient routing, and working towards a new unified vision for Europe's disjointed Air Traffic Management infrastructure. After all, the whole point of Clean Sky developing new technologies for the next generation of aircraft could not reach its full potential if air traffic management lacks the capacity and efficiencies to get passengers where they need to go in the shortest, smoothest, quickest timeframe - without being stuck in holding stacks or waiting for take-off slots.
Therefore it could be said that Clean Sky and SESAR have a certain level of symbiosis and shared objectives - siblings in a family of Eco-sensitive initiatives.
One of SESAR's objectives is to contribute up to 10% of the ACARE emission-reduction goals and, through optimised take-off and descent approaches, to reducing perceived noise at airports. Some of these objectives can be achieved with the current in-service fleet, but it's new engines, wing aerodynamics and other Clean Sky technologies that will enable even more significant emission reductions and noise mitigation.
The definition and development phases of SESAR ran between 2007-2013, and have established the next generation of air traffic management systems, components and operational procedures. SESAR is currently in its deployment phase (2014-2020), which will see the large scale production and implementation of new air traffic management infrastructure foreseen in the Single European Sky Master Plan, bringing in time-saving initiatives such as Time Based Separation - already successfully deployed at Heathrow airport - and SWIM, the intranet of air traffic management, enabling seamless data exchange between all providers and users of aeronautical, flight, aerodrome, meteorological, air traffic flow, and surveillance information.
Clean Sky is the vital part of that wide-ranging set of Eurocentric initiatives with a focus on fostering new technologies that will make tomorrow's aircraft greener and more efficient.
What follows is how Clean Sky came about, how the original Clean Sky programme (henceforth known as Clean Sky 1) has and is enabling novel aeronautical research and technology to address the challenges of commercial aviation, and how the more recently launched Clean Sky 2 is setting its sights for the even more stringent environmental challenges of commercial flight in the 2025 to 2050 timeframe.
Find out more about ACARE
Find out more about SESAR