The aerospace sector is a leader in innovation. Our systems are rich in technology and reveal the creativity of the many players in our sector. To maintain this level of excellence, the aerospace industry remains dedicated to collaborative innovation based on ongoing cooperation between private and public actors. This is the best way to prepare for the future in a very competitive environment.


To meet environmental challenges, go head-to-head with international competition and tackle new safety and security challenges, the aeronautics industry has only one choice: innovation. Our innovation must be ambitious and involve the whole supply chain in order to account for its specificities: very long development cycles paired with multiple complex technologies, which all need to converge and be integrated at the right time into optimized products. 

The conditions for success, which our country has proved itself capable of bringing together for decades, lie in collaborative research that links all professions in the sector (aircraft and engine manufacturers, system and equipment suppliers, specialized SMEs). This research has been co-organized and co-financed since 2008 through an effective public-private partnership within CORAC. The French Civil Aviation Research Council, chaired by the Minister in charge of transport, brings together industry actors, the DGAC, the relevant ministries, the ONERA, Air France and the FNAM, Aéroports de Paris and the Union des Aéroports Français.

Within this collaborative body, GIFAS and its members are directly involved in the creation of a technological innovation roadmap. They receive support from the DGAC and its significant government-related expertise, as well as from the high-level research center ONERA. The challenge is to accommodate the main drivers of transformation in the sector (reduction of environmental impact; improvement of air operations, self-driving vehicles and industrial excellence) by synchronizing stakeholders’ efforts over new timelines. 

From 2018, CORAC made the energetic transition a major focus of its roadmap and more than half of its actions are related to this subject. The necessary acceleration to manage the challenge of the energetic transition requires work on a panoply of solutions: electric/hybrid (for aircraft with a seating capacity of less than 40 taking into account the power-to-weight ratio of batteries), disruptive technology for engines and configurations, and new sources of energy.

“For 10 years, CORAC has been leading an exemplary and concerted effort by the whole sector (industry and government entities) to prepare the technologies necessary for the competitiveness of our civil aviation industry, in a world characterized by heightened competition and major environmental challenges. The Airbus A350, LEAP engines, and the Helicopter H160 are some examples of emblematic products that use technology born from CORAC’s work.”

Jean-Brice Dumont, President of the CORAC Steering Committee

The space sector

Internationally, the space sector is undergoing significant transformation due to the rise in commercial activity and the past few years’ disruptive “new space” programs launched in the United States by major figures from the digital sector. 

Markets and technologies are evolving very quickly with the arrival of satellite constellations, the United States’ massive investment in high-speed satellite Internet, etc. 

From satellites to launchers it’s clear that the future of the space sector relies on its ability to anticipate technological evolutions: technologies adapted to satellite constellations, quantum communications, photonics, artificial intelligence, reusable launchers, and so on. 

COSPACE (the French committee for public-private cooperation on space), which was created in 2013, facilitates the consolidation of an innovation strategy that can be shared between the relevant ministries, the CNES (the French space agency), the sector and public laboratories. Roadmaps for research and technology have also been proposed in a concerted effort by COSPACE (in association with suppliers and SMEs). 

About telecommunications satellites, COSPACE players have proposed a detailed program based on the development of high-priority technologies (e.g. high-performance digital payloads, the ground segment, the Internet of Things, latest-generation electric propulsion, etc.), flight testing and upstream research. 

Downstream developments in the field (innovative ways of processing space data) have also been encouraged by COSPACE through the Boosters program. Seven support structures in different regions of France were labeled “Boosters” by COSPACE between 2016 and 2019. 

These structures take their strength from local ecosystems (competitiveness clusters) and their goals are to bring together players in the space and digital sectors (among others) in order to foster and support innovative projects that use space data.

Industry-wide brainstorming

Scientific and technological research is a cornerstone of the aeronautics, space and defense sectors. The cross-cutting work of the GIFAS R&D Commission relies on peer-level collaboration among large manufacturers, suppliers and SMEs

The work done by this Commission’s task forces, whether focused on specific technical fields (operating safety management, electrical systems, mechanical systems, system engineering for complex systems, IoT, etc.) or on strategic themes (institutional support for R&T, European research programs, etc.) aims squarely at challenges and issues related to research and innovation for the benefit of the whole industry.

It’s important to note that this spirit of collaboration extends to the European level. France participates in ACARE (the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe) and in the technology research programs Clean Sky and SESAR, that brings together thousands of European researchers and engineers to change the future of aviation.

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