The 14 December 2021 saw the official launch of the SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking (SESAR 3 JU), marking a new chapter in modernising European air traffic management (ATM). Bringing together the EU, Eurocontrol, and more than 50 organisations covering the entire aviation value chain, including drones, this new European partnership will invest more than EUR 1.6 billion between now and 2030 to accelerate, through research and innovation, the delivery of an inclusive, resilient and sustainable Digital European Sky. Building on the achievements of its predecessor, the SESAR 3 JU will drive an ambitious programme to make Europe’s aviation infrastructure fit for the digital age, while offering quick wins to contribute towards the sector’s net zero ambitions.

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) are founding members of the SESAR 3 JU. Both were already involved in various roles in the previous two SESAR partnerships and contributed their expertise as independent research institutions to numerous SESAR projects as partners or coordinators.

Drawing upon a wide pool of multidisciplinary expertise spanning the length and breadth of Europe, the SESAR 3 JU will develop and deliver innovative solutions across nine flagship areas of research and innovation (R&I), accommodating a diverse array of air traffic, from air taxis and delivery drones to commercial airliners and military aircraft. The portfolio of R&I activities will be structured according to an innovation pipeline, composed of exploratory and industrial research, large-scale demonstrators and a fast-track mechanism, to accelerate market uptake of the most promising and competitive solutions.

The new partnership will also act as catalyst for speeding up the transition towards climate neutral aviation, focusing on solutions that can be implemented rapidly and that can bring environmental benefits in the short to medium term, ahead of a ramp-up in use of sustainable aviation fuels. It will also aim to introduce solutions that allow for a more flexible and resilient infrastructure that is capable of withstanding unpredictable shocks like COVID-19.

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