If we are to tackle ALL emissions from aviation, we must completely ReThink Aviation. ReUse, ReCycle, RePair and ReBuild; that was the motto of the event organised jointly by the European Commission and the Association of European Research Establishments in Aeronautics (EREA) at the 2023 Le Bourget Paris Air Show. Aviation can learn a lot from other sector, various speakers said. But where to start?

A recycling mandate as is common in the automotive sector, more research into circular materials and circular-by-design aircraft, etc: these are just a few of the ideas voiced by the panellists at the event at Le Bourget Airshow jointly organised by EREA and the European Commission (EC). The European Commission recently took several initiatives in the framework of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan, aiming for a fully circular economy by 2050. However, it was clear to the panellists that much more needs to be done before aviation is also fully circular. For EREA and the Future Sky Circular Aviation team the aim is clear: to enable a fully circular flight by 2050.

Rosalinde Van Der Vlies (DG RTD Director of Clean Planet Directorate), Anna Christmann (Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy) and Paweł Stężycki (EREA Chairman) (who gave keynote speeches) recalled what is currently being done to enable a transition towards circularity. The European Commission has funded projects, such as Future Sky project SUSTAINair, that make a meaningful technical contribution, but also Airbus, Air France-KLM and Tarmac Aerosave are taking significant steps, as indicated by the respective panellists.

Bringing together key stakeholders from the aviation sector was the first step in the journey towards circularity, but certainly not the last. The technical challenges are significant and budgets to tackle them remain limited. In addition, raw materials are becoming more scarce whilst eroding the EU’s economic independence in the world. As such, circularity serves not only the EU’s Green Deal goals, but also the need for strategic autonomy.

One crucial next step is to seek cross sectoral cooperation as there is much to learn from other sectors, such as automotive, that have a history of circular practises. As Pawel Stężycki mentioned during his contribution, this event is just the start.

Interested in the topic or EREA’s activities on circularity? EREA invites all that are interested in the topic to get in touch with us.


Check out the latest DG RTD Factsheet on “Circular Economy in aviation” (available here) published the week of the Bourget Air Show, in parallel with this joint event.


For more information on EREA and Future Sky Circular Aviation, please visit the EREA website and EREA Future Sky Circular Aviation webpage.