France and the Netherlands explore basis for long-term cooperation on sustainable aviation
France and the Netherlands are going to cooperate more intensively in the field of sustainable aviation. These and other agreements were made during an innovation mission to France, from 4 to 6 July 2021 in Toulouse. In cooperation with the NAG (Netherlands Aerospace Group), RVO and the Dutch Embassy in Paris, Dutch and French entrepreneurs and researchers discussed how they can strengthen each other.
Promising themes are the development of a hydrogen-powered aircraft, the related storage, distribution and infrastructure of hydrogen at airports, the application of lightweight materials (thermoplastics), electronic wiring and the production and use of SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel).
This innovation mission was organized in the context of the March 2022 government consultations between France and the Netherlands. Here, President Macron and Prime Minister Rutte agreed to establish an “innovation pact” where sustainable aviation is one of the themes and to organize a bilateral (summit) conference on sustainable aviation.
During the mission, NLR presented the National Growth Fund proposal “aviation in transition” to Airbus and French parties. The contribution of the National Growth Fund, totaling EUR 768 million, contributes to the ambition to achieve climate-neutral aviation by 2050. The Dutch growth fund proposal is in line with French President Macron’s ambition to have a hydrogen aircraft in production as early as 2030. The French National Growth Fund has allocated EUR 2 bln for this purpose.
One of the highlights of the innovation mission was a visit to Airbus. In addition to presentations on the ZeroE program, the main topics discussed were the development (and timeline) of a hydrogen aircraft, testing of an engine in the ZeroE “demonstrator” aircraft, the concept of” Hydrogen Hubs at airports” and the associated laws and regulations. In addition, automation and manufacturing processes were discussed. A special topic is the development, production and application of SAF and the opportunities that this may offer for the Netherlands. Follow-up agreements were made to explore Dutch participation in the “Airports Task Force” and to further structure the Dutch offer as supplier to Airbus, also in cooperation with Airbus Netherlands. The ongoing MoU between NAG and Airbus can support this. Finally, a number of bilateral contacts and introductions will be organized.
Aerospace Valley is the cluster of aerospace and drones for the Toulouse region and has over 800 members. During a seminar at Aerospace Valley, a number of pitches were given by NLR, KLM, GAF/Fokker, TCRC, Rotterdam TheHague Airport/Rotterdam The Hague Innovation Airport and Unified International. From the French side, Aerospace Valley presented itself as well as the French companies Safran and Thales. Aerospace Valley has offered to explore further cooperation towards NAG, RVO and the NL Embassy as a follow-up action.
Part of the program was a visit to ISAE Supaero, the counterpart of TU Delft. From the NL government an Embassy Science fellowship program has been started to intensify the exchange on scientific level between the Netherlands and France and to do research on flight optimizations between France and the Netherlands and the possibilities for electronic flying. Appointment to explore if a cooperation ISAE-AirFrance/ TUDELFT-KLM is a possibility.
The delegation also visited the manufacturer of regional (turboprop) aircraft, ATR. ATR is the global leader in this segment and is focusing on the application of SAF for the short term. ATR has recently performed a (test) flight with 100% application of SAF and is looking for the longer term also at the deployment of hydrogen. In addition, they are looking at the use of sustainable lightweight materials and improving the de-icing process. As a follow-up action in the short term, NAG will set up “scouting sessions” for ATR in cooperation with the mission participants to see for which topics (and with which companies) there can be potential cooperation. For the longer term, an MoU may be a follow-up action.
In addition to the individual follow-up actions per participant, a small-scale sustainable aviation mission will be organized in September to Nantes (including to Airbus) and a mission will be organized in June 2023 to the Paris Airshow Le Bourget. In addition, on November 24, 2022, the bilateral (summit) conference “Erasmus-Descartes” will be organized in Paris with the theme of sustainable aviation. The participants of this innovation mission as well as other French and Dutch companies and knowledge institutions from the aviation sector can participate. The themes of the innovation mission also provide a good basis for the program of this conference.
The innovation mission consisted of the following companies, knowledge institutions and government organizations:
Additive Industries, Aeronamics, Airbus DS NL, Fits Technology, GKN Aerospace/Fokker technologies, KLM Engineering & Maintenance (E&M), Ministerie van Economische Zaken en Klimaat (EZK), Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Watermanagement (I&W), Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR), Netherlands Aerospace Group (NAG), Panta Holdings B.V., Pronexos B.V., Rotterdam The Hague Airport, Rotterdam The Hague Innovation Airport, RVO, Thermoplastics Composites Research Center (TCRC), TU DELFT en Unified international