What is Eco-Design and what are the challenges?

The Eco-Design Transverse Activity (TA) is the part of the Clean Sky universe that focuses on the overall ‘cradle to cradle’ approach to design, manufacturing, maintenance and disposal (including recycling), examining the basic elements of materials, processes and resources, and advancing that science in areas of performance across the entire lifespan of those elements. All of this helps to ensure a heightened level of eco-compliance across other Clean Sky ITDs and IADPs.

In practical terms, for Clean Sky 2, the Eco-Design TA secures the achievements of Clean Sky 1's Eco-Design Integrated Technology Demonstrator (ITD) and takes them to the next level.

If you like, Eco-Design takes the full cycle from idea to end-of-life disposal of the aeronautical industry's products and services and revisits every step as well as the ‘whole life cycle’ in terms of impact on the Earth’s resources, energy consumption, waste and elimination of hazards and harmful elements. This often necessitates going back – so to say – to the ‘Periodic Table’ of materials, elements and chemistry and physics and rethinking, re-engineering and recombining materials, processes and resources in order to maximise ecological readiness for tomorrow's air transport system and its footprint in environmental, ecological and societal terms.

The challenge, when operating at this granular level, is for the technologies, processes and their benefits of the Eco-Design TA to translate across the activities with which it is related and where it interfaces in the other ITDs and IADPs for the benefits accruing in those programme areas to be synergised, optimised and tracked in order to ensure their achievement. It's a case of managing the symbiosis for the mutual benefit of all the joint activities, requiring skilled coordination of all actors and stakeholders in the Clean Sky eco-system.

Eco-Design's remit is to step in to the processes of other programmes, when appropriate, if new materials or processes become available over the course of those other ITDs. It's a continuous and evolving process – but one which adds quality to the evolving demonstrators across all programmes, keeping them at the forefront of technological accomplishment in aeronautics.



Eco-Design will develop and execute a roadmap of excellence, to add a European flavour of quality and eco-compliance in aeronautical science, across the entire product life-cycle.

The Eco-Design TA is the continuation and extension of the ECO ITD activity in Clean Sky 1 and therefore has a robust and proven basis already on which to build.

The strands that this Eco-Design process follows include:

  • The Eco-Design Analysis (EDAS) activity for next concept (full) REcycle and Eco-Design Life
  • Going beyond the conventional “cradle to grave” philosophy, to stimulate better RE-Use options
  • The Vehicle Ecological Economic Synergy activity (VEES), which is driven from Materials, Processes, Resources (MPR) innovations, with an adaptive Eco Hybrid Platform (EHP)
  • LCA+ (Life Cycle Analysis-plus) design driven and an open platform on the level of complete vehicles. LCA+ is used as a receiving-end methodology from the developing Design for Environment (DfE) vision. 


Demonstrators - Strategies

In the work units’ concept, ECOTech units of clear universal issues (e.g. on corrosion, surface treatments, fire, contamination etc.) will be implemented.

Eco-Design will maintain a sophisticated MPR Database, suitable for aeronautics from the initial Clean Sky 1 initiative, offer technical workshops for exchange on LCA, the discourse on DfE, REACH, RoHS, evolving European Standards impacts (indirect water consumption etc.), on concerns such as primary energy demand in production with cost knock-on effect.

The Eco-Design Statements (ES) concept will ensure the best developed Eco-Design recommendation guidelines come from these collaborative sub-activity areas.

The Eco-Design delivery will focus on quality, eco-compliance and processes whereas the ITDs/IADPs lead the TRL-maturity process in the technology streams with component application identity. Together, this will raise the technology strengths in the new Clean Sky 2 Programme.

Eco-Design will deliver success by:

  • Demonstrating Eco-Design interaction throughout the ITD/IADPs
  • Generating master scientific approaches to match eco-quality and compliance to high TRL
  • Creating user enthusiasm value feed-back through Eco-Design principles
  • Reducing down-cycling, no-future technology down-selection and withdrawal of menaces
  • MPR database enhancing EU competitiveness




Tomorrow’s challenge, today’s call to action

Ultimately, what the Eco-Design TA accomplishes is an accumulation of intellectual property – one of the most valuable commodities in a rapidly changing world. But in fact it offers something even more valuable than IP, for the concepts nurtured under Clean Sky 2's umbrella traverse both the theoretical and the practical universes by virtue of their evolution and validation through the demonstrators. The aeronautical eco-systems that will prevail in the future will be those that have mastered both universes.

Today's call to action is really to strengthen Europe's position in global markets using the eco-design initiatives through Clean Sky 2's cross-pollination of innovative ideas and resources between industry, academia and research organisations, thereby addressing the needs of tomorrow's increasingly mobile citizens.



Europe is already in a positive market position – in the commercial aviation sector it produces half of the world's airline fleets, up from only 10% a few decades ago. This creates a momentum that encourages airlines, aircraft lessors, owners and operators to look favourably on buying European aircraft and associated product support. The Eco-Design TA adds to the branding of European aeronautics.



Clean Sky E-News

Have a look at the latest editions of our monthly newsletter. You can read the previous version here. To get E-News delivered directly to your inbox, subscribe here:

Discover past E-News