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Onera named prime contractor for SWAFEA alternative fuel study

Onera has been chosen by the European Commission (Directorate-General for Energy and Transport) to conduct a strategic feasibility and impact study on alternative fuels for aviation, called SWAFEA: Sustainable Way for Alternative Fuel and Energy in Aviation. Acting as prime contractor, Onera is leading a consortium of 19 industry and research partners.

The growth of air travel, combined with environmental requirements and ongoing fluctuations in jet fuel prices, means that airlines are considering the use of alternative fuels as a medium-term solution.

Under these conditions, the European Commission wanted to launch a wide-ranging study to synthesize available information and support the decision-making process. After issuing a call for tenders, it chose the Onera-led proposal, including 19 partners. The SWAFEA study is designed to provide political authorities with the information needed to foster and anticipate the emergence of alternative solutions, which should enable the aviation industry to ensure its long-term viability by reducing its dependence on oil-based products and its environmental impact.

By providing a clearer view of the feasibility of different alternative fuel options, the SWAFEA study will also help determine research paths to prepare future European programs.

Furthermore, the SWAFEA study will provide solid foundations for international partnerships extending beyond Europe, including in the United States.

Inventory to road map: a multidisciplinary approach

The SWAFEA study will be carried out over a period of 26 months, synthesizing our current knowledge of the different alternatives to conventional jet fuel, and issuing recommendations and a road map for their deployment in the medium term.

The study will call on a multidisciplinary approach to integrate all issues involved, spanning technical, organizational, economic, society, environmental and geopolitical aspects. This inventory of the "state of the art" will be backed by experimentation.

To carry out this project, Onera has formed a consortium of 19 European and international partners, representing all sectors concerned: aircraft manufacturing, air transport, oil industry, research and consulting.

SWAFEA also includes a major communications component, including a collaborative Web portal and an international conference so that everybody involved can learn about the proposals and discuss them.

Through this study, Onera confirms its position as an acknowledged specialist in science and technology, with the expertise needed to help political authorities make strategic technology choices.

Press release issued by ONERA Office national d’Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales on February 11, 2009


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