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Aviation operations impact on climate change (InCo flagship) (RIA Research and Innovation action) - LC-MG-1-6-2019
Deadline: Apr 24, 2019  

 Sustainable Development
 International Cooperation
 Aerospace Technology
 Aeronautics Industries
 Climate Sciences

Specific Challenge:

This action is part of the Aviation International Cooperation Flagship called "Safer and Greener Aviation in a Smaller World" mentioned in the introduction to this work programme 2018-2020.

Aviation alters the composition of the atmosphere globally, thus can potentially contribute to anthropogenic climate change and ozone depletion. The last major international assessment of these impacts was made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1999. In addition to CO2, the climate impact of aviation is strongly influenced by non-CO2 emissions, such as nitrogen oxides, influencing ozone and methane, and water vapour, which can lead to the formation of persistent contrails in ice-supersaturated regions.

Beyond the perennial challenge in developing new technologies that can minimize the impact in the medium and longer term, the main objective of this action is expected to address mitigation strategies that will minimise those negative effects by aviation on climate in the short-medium term and are relevant for greener flight trajectories and operations.


The proposals may aim at one or more of the following areas: ​

A. Advance further the international state-of-the-art, through better scientific understanding of aviation emissions with high degree of uncertainty and high estimated impact to climate change, in order to enable greener flight operations.

B. Propose and evaluate mitigation strategies towards operational improvements.

C. Propose and evaluate mitigation strategies towards greener flight trajectories (ensuring complementarities with SESAR JU activities).

D. Propose and evaluate mitigation strategies based on the use of alternative jet fuel pathways that have been approved under or intended to apply for the ASTM D7566 approval standard. A detailed Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) approach needs to be included taking into account the following key elements: proper co-product allocation methodology, system boundaries, attributional vs consequential LCA and uncertainties from the time horizon, the potential of Green House Gases (GHGs) reduction and economic implications. Regarding the feedstocks, the impact of indirect land-use change (ILUC) on GHGs emissions must also be taken into account and addressed.

Proposals are expected to address the need to design and implement international measurement campaigns, in order to contribute to better climate metric assessments and more reliable physical and climate models.

This action does not address new aircraft technologies on structures, systems, engines nor their integration, towards minimising the impact in the medium and longer term. The projects are expected to formulate specific recommendations for stakeholders on flight planning and on the use of alternative fuels.

In line with the strategy for EU international cooperation in research and innovation (COM(2012)497), international cooperation is encouraged. In particular bilateral international cooperation with China is encouraged for areas C and D with the aim at promoting substantial coordinated and balanced research and innovation cooperation between the EU and China. Proposals under those research areas C and D are encouraged to have an appropriate balance in terms of effort and/or number of partners between the EU and China. China-based participants have the possibility to apply for funding under the Chinese co-funding mechanism and other Chinese sources.

Although the association of TRL to better understanding aviation emissions is not uniquely defined, the implementation of the proposed topic may cover TRL spectrum from 2 to 4.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 2 and 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact:

The topic aims to deliver scientifically founded and globally harmonised policy, regulations and operational improvements to support climate-friendly flight operations. Expected impacts are:

  • Better understanding the impact of aircraft emissions on climate towards better policy.
  • International measurement campaigns and international validation of physical and climate models.
  • Operational improvements in support to achieve the collective medium term global aspirational goal of keeping the global net CO2 emissions from international aviation from 2020 at the same level (so-called "carbon neutral growth from 2020").
  • Enhanced role of the Union in International Organisations and multilateral fora as well as strengthened implementation, governance, monitoring and evaluation.
  • Collaboration and sharing expertise on operational improvements and global market-based measures with EU and National aviation and environment research programmes.
  • Contribution to UN's Sustainable Development Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Cross-cutting Priorities:

International cooperation

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