Key takeaways from DEFIS participation to the Paris Air Show 2023

Source: European Commission (DG DEFIS)

DG DEFIS participated to the 54th edition of the Paris Air Show, the annual rendezvous of global stakeholders of the aeronautics, defence and space ecosystems, representatives from the SMEs, entrepreneurship, research and academics sectors. Organised in Le Bourget (Paris aera) every two years, the fair brings together over 2,500 exhibitors, 300 start-ups and attract 300,000 visitors and 322 political delegations from more than 100 countries.

DG DEFIS seized this opportunity to promote its key programmes and activities, notably the European Defence Fund, the European Union Space programme and the Alliance for Zero Emission Aviation. Throughout this weekly event, various info sessions, political momentum, and high-level meetings were organised by DG DEFIS.

AERONAUTIC – A European Union fit for hydrogen and electric aircraft

In line with French President Macron’s opening remarks calling for reasonable measures for civil aviation conciliating growth and environment, DG DEFIS organised the 2nd General Assembly of the Alliance for Zero Emission Aviation, in presence of EU Commissioner Thierry Breton.


Steered by DG DEFIS’ Director for Defence Francois Arbault, the General Assembly gathered 180 participants representing the Alliance’s 143 member organisations from across Europe and beyond. The industry notably presented to Commissioner Breton the progresses made by the alliance towards hydrogen and electric aircraft.

The progress report published on this occasion notes that hydrogen and electric aircraft will enter into commercial use still this decade and that the coming years must be used to establish an appropriate regulatory framework. The report also describes the analysis carried out by the AZEA working groups over the past six months and describes the Alliance’s next steps.

Following the General Assembly two info sessions were also organised during the event, to promote the alliance and the future of regional air mobility.


DEFENCE – Boosting cross-border Defence R&D cooperation in the EU through the European Defence Fund

As the European Defence ecosystem was widely represented during the Paris Air Show, DG DEFIS organised 5 info sessions throughout the week targeting industries participating in the EDF Calls and the ones that could  consider taking part in future EDF consortia.

The info sessions notably addressed EDF design and implementation, accessibility conditions, programme’s life cycle and the various categories of actions addressed by EDF annual work programme.

These presentations also highlighted the latest Commission initiatives in the field of defence: European Defence Innovation Scheme (EUDIS); the Act in Support to Ammunition Production (ASAP) and European Defence Industry Reinforcement through common Procurement Act (EDIRPA).


SPACE – Space entrepreneurship and innovation at the heart of Copernicus 2.0

Commissioner Breton announced the on-boarding of nine European start-ups to the Copernicus Contributing Missions’ activity. As part of these Contributing Missions, each of the nine companies have been awarded with a €5 million anchor customer contract to provide complementary data to Copernicus, in addition to the data provided by the Sentinel satellites. They ensure that a whole range of observational requirements is satisfied.

The nine companies are: Aerospacelab, Prométhée, EnduroSat, Kuva Space Oy, Constellr, OroraTech, Aistech, Satlantis, and Absolut Sensing. This marks a new step towards a possible hybrid setup for Copernicus 2.0.

Several other discussions throughout the week also gave the floor to New Space companies, highlighting the potential of space technology in strengthening the security and defence capabilities of the European Union, and the role of space companies in the support of Ukraine. Lastly, the event was also the opportunity to gather for the first time the representatives of the Space4Geo initiative who recently launched of a new large-scale partnership focusing on skills.


RESEARCH & INNOVATION – unleashing the potential of Quantum Technologies

Quantum technologies have various promising applications for space and is notably expected to be a game-changer in the field of Earth-Observation, leading to much more performant services.

DG DEFIS Director-General Timo Pesonen invited his CNES and DLR counterparts to sign a Joint Declaration for the deployment of a Quantum Space Gravimetry pathfinder mission, the first stone of a wider cooperation agreement with other EU member states towards the launch of the pathfinder mission supported by Horizon Europe.

In line with this political impetus, DG DEFIS gathered several experts to provide their insights on the challenges ahead for quantum technologies and their prospects for concrete applications. Quantum technologies in space are notably expected to support better monitoring of the Earth’s resources (e.g., subsurface energy and water sources, ice sheets, with applications in geodesy, oceanography, hydrology, volcanology) and the adverse effects of climate change (e.g., early warning systems for floods, draught monitoring, earthquake prediction), thus contributing to the objectives of the European Green Deal.

Lastly, another back-to-back discussion gave the floor to several New Space companies designing promising concepts of quantum applications for space, so as to promote existing solutions within the space entrepreneurship ecosystem.




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