The Out of the Box project1 owes it origin to views expressed during the writing of "Vision 2020" and the subsequent SRA 1 and 2. Although the main emphasis of the SRA’s was bound to be upon evolutionary research it was recognised that the challenges facing aviation would require new concepts to be examined with the prospect of deploying them later in the 21st Century. In the years since Vision 2020 it has proved difficult to find the resources to further this idea. However, in 2006 the Commission offered help and encouragement to bring this idea forward and act to assemble an initial list of disruptive, radical and innovative ideas.
The project was defined in mid-2006 and this Report covers the first phase of the planned work.
This Report makes clear that it does not form part of this phase of the work to carry out formal ranking of the ideas. However, it is clear that some of the ideas, especially in their developed form, are more important. Among the more significant ideas were:
- The Airborne Metro: A concept in which large cruisers fly non-stop circling paths around the globe and are intercepted by feeder liners from local airports. A number of major challenges are identified for further study but the benefits of less climate impact and lower noise and congestion at airports are explored.
- Ground Power Augmentation: The whole question of why aircraft need to lift and carry such great weights is faced in this concept. It addresses the question by suggesting ways in which the use of ground installed power might be used to reduce the aircraft weight with benefits to fuel consumption and thereby to global warming.
- Future Airport Systems: This large view of potential future concepts for airports presents a number of the ideas and examines the ways in which aviation can (a) reduce its global impact, (b) provide a better passenger experience and (c) provide for the expected needs of more capacity.
- Personal Transport Systems: Although not a new idea the Report takes a more encompassing view of the future for PTS and draws attention to the challenge of control and training rather than the design of the air vehicle.
- Future Airline Systems: The business construction of the firms that supply the aviation services of tomorrow will be crucial to their impact. A number of ideas are examined, some quite radical to explore what links there are between government aims for the climate, airport services, air operators and the passenger.
The Report also examines the ideas put forward to improve the quality and productiveness of innovative groups across Europe. A particularly interesting idea was to create a wikipedia style registry that would be open to a wide group of people and allow mutual expansion, moderation and recording of new ideas and concepts.
The objectives set out for the Out of the Box study are to:
- Bring together knowledgeable representatives of all stakeholders in the air transport system and other experts to work together in a brainstorming workshop to generate and gather new ideas.
- Take a fresh look at the air transport system of systems of the future and towards radical and innovative concepts and solutions for the development of the future systems.
- Contribute new mechanisms by which the air transport system could operate in the future.
- Provide guidance to the European Commission on the contents of the aeronautical and air transport Work Programme of FP 7.
- Provide a stepping stone for a future European Incubator organisation.
- Assist the European Commission to disseminate the results of the project to ACARE and its participants, to the ACARE Communications Group and to Air TN via ACARE.
- Increase public awareness about future directions in air transport and to keep air transport an attractive sector for young people to seek a career in.
- Facilitate the dialogue on air transport issues with third countries.
The first phase of this work would concentrate upon the ideas creation activities and contribute to as many of the other objectives as possible. This was realised through a Workshop.
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