Israel’s IAI tapped by EU to develop environmentally friendly air travel

The ‘Clean Sky’ JTI is focusing on developing ‘green’ vehicle design with the aim of improving aerodynamic efficiency of engines and systems in order to minimize the environmental impact of air transport systems. Israel’s aviation giant, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), …

The ‘Clean Sky’ JTI is focusing on developing ‘green’ vehicle design with the aim of improving aerodynamic efficiency of engines and systems in order to minimize the environmental impact of air transport systems. Israel’s aviation giant, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), has recently been accepted as a major partner in a new research and development project, the ‘Clean Sky JTI (Joint Technology Initiative)’, together with the major European aerospace industries.

Air transport activities, major contributors to environmental pollution, add more than 25% of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, resulting in a significant impact on climate change.

The ‘Clean Sky’ initiative, the largest European research project ever with a budget estimated to reach over 1.6 billion Euros, aims to radically improve the impact of air transport on the environment with the goal of eliminating environmental pollution by reducing greenhouse gases. This project falls under the umbrella of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7).

Israel has been collaborating with the EU on R&D programs since 1996, and is the only country outside the EU associated with the ‘Clean Sky’ initiative. Considered a source of innovative technology in this field, IAI was invited to participate in the initiative to build environmentally friendly parts for aircraft.

“IAI will be heading a team working on the ecological task of waste management – what can be done with by-products of aircraft manufacturing that cannot be simply discarded,” said Arnold Nathan, director of R&D for the engineering division of IAI, who heads a team that is currently working on 85 projects in conjunction with the EU.

“We are also working as a primary partner on a task of life extension ensuring reliable analyses and methods for increasing the life of aircraft structural parts,” he told ISRAEL21c.

The ‘Clean Sky’ JTI is focusing on developing ‘green’ vehicle design with the aim of improving aerodynamic efficiency of engines and systems in order to minimize the environmental impact of air transport systems. It is the European aeronautics industry’s response to demands to reduce the negative impact aviation has had on the environment. The goal is to achieve a 50% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and external noise, and a whopping 80% reduction of other noxious emissions, in addition to an environmentally friendly production cycle.

According to Dassault Aviation’s Myriam Goldsztejn, the vice president of European Commission Business Development, aircraft in the future would pollute much less than at present, and will also be made of recyclable parts, resulting in considerable savings in materials. In addition, the fuel consumption of new aircraft will be drastically reduced, resulting in significant energy savings.

In addition to Dassault, prominent European aerospace companies like Airbus, Saab Aerospace, Eurocopter, and Rolls Royce are participating in the program. Asked what IAI’s contribution could be when dealing with giants such as Airbus, and other aerospace companies in Europe, Nathan said: “IAI’s contribution is well-recognized and significant. In 20% of cases we run the whole project. They see us as people with initiative and expertise on a technological level.”

According to Goldsztejn, among the factors taken into consideration in inviting IAI to join the program was the company’s considerable experience, not only in design, manufacturing and maintenance, but also in the environmental domain.

“Arnold Nathan made a specific presentation on what has already been done by the Israeli industry and convinced us that IAI will be a good partner,” Goldsztejn told ISRAEL21c. “Therefore we think that Israeli industry will bring us its expertise in specific areas, and in turn it will gain expertise in additional domains that we plan on developing during the seven years of the FP7.”

With 15,000 employees and sales in 2006 of over $2 billion, IAI is globally recognized as a leader in the development of both military and commercial aerospace technology. Established in 1953, IAI has applied the skills and experience it has acquired in catering to Israel’s security needs, to become a world leader in aircraft conversion and modernization programs, unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), communication programs and defense electronics.

IAI systems currently in use by the Israel Defense Forces are upgraded F-16, F-15 and F-4 aircraft, Yasur 2000 and upgraded CH-53 helicopters, Dvora patrol boats, Gabriel sea-to-sea missiles, and the Phalcon Early Warning aircraft. The Arrow anti-tactical ballistic missile, Israel’s answer to the threat of short and medium-range ballistic missiles, is currently in development at IAI, in cooperation with the Israel Ministry of Defense and the US Ballistic Missile Defense Organization
Other fields in the FP7 that Israel will participate in, include R&D in health, food, biotechnology, agriculture, information and communication technologies, nanosciences, new production technologies, energy, environment and climate change, socio-economic sciences and humanities, security, and space.

Another area in which Israeli expertise will likely shine is the field of nanotechnology which has exciting applications in engineering, electronics, and medicine. Nanotechnology, the ability to create materials on the scale of one millionth of a meter, offers a capacity to create new materials with extraordinary qualities such as a substance stronger than steel, yet significantly lighter. The FP7′s research committee declared nanotechnology to be a preferred area of development and Israel is the only country outside Europe to take part in EU nanotech programs.

“Since Israel first participated in the Framework Program in 1996; R&D cooperation with the EU has enjoyed remarkable success. More than 700 Israeli companies, research institutes and universities took part in projects under the Sixth Framework Program,” said Janez Potocnik, commissioner for science and research, European Commission, prior to the launching of the FP7.

And with the Clean Sky JTI getting into full swing, Israel’s importance in the FP7 is likely to grow further.