The International Forum for Aviation Research (IFAR) is seeking to develop international interactions between young professionals working in both technical and nontechnical areas of aviation research around the world. This initiative is described as “early career networking” and is a focus area for the forum.
“‘Progress lives in the exchange of knowledge’ said Albert Einstein. That is something we are doing in the IFAR,” affirmed forum founder and IFAR board chairperson Professor Joachim Szodruch. “The objectives of the IFAR are networking, cooperation, information exchange, communication [and] education.”
Founded in 2010 with a membership of 16 aviation research organisations from around the world, the IFAR now comprises 26 such institutions, representing more than 35 000 researchers working in aviation worldwide. South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is one of the member agencies.
The focus is on early career networking is because of its importance to the global industry. “When you talk about empowering growth, you have to have the people to do it!” highlighted Szodruch. “We’d like those early career people to get together . . . This [early career development] is one of the issues we have to drive forward . . . because this is one of the enablers [for the industry].”
Getting people together physically is a problem, for it is both time consuming and expensive. Fortunately, technology is providing an answer. He cited the importance of virtual conferencing and noted that this was being promoted by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) and was being taken up by other organisations.
The IFAR is concerned with noncompetitive research in areas of common interest to meet global technical challenges. These include efficient operations, emissions, noise, safety and security. Other, related, areas of interest include air traffic management, alternative fuels, vertical lift and weather. The forum operates on the basis of consensus among its members and supports several expert groups and initiatives.
The forum has a secretariat that was initially supported by the DLR (Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt), Germany’s aerospace research institute, and by the European Commission. Currently, the secretariat is supported by the DLR, Nasa, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (better known as Jaxa) and the NLR-Netherlands Aerospace Centre.
National aerospace research institutions, including universities, may join the IFAR. However, only one organisation per country may join, and members must be not-for-profit bodies, predominantly publicly owned or funded, and mandated by their host country to carry out aerospace research activities on behalf of that country.
The members of the IFAR cover Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North America and South America. In alphabetical order by country, they are (names in English, with, where appropriate, their abbreviations in their home languages) – Australia: the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Autonomous Systems Laboratory; Austria: Vienna University; Belgium: the Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI); Brazil: the Institute of Aeronautics and Space (IAE); Canada: the National Research Council, Aeronautics Portfolio; China: the Chinese Aeronautical Establishment; Czech Republic: the Aeronautical Research and Test Institute (VZLU); Finland: the Technical Research Centre (VTT); France: the French Aerospace Laboratory (Onera); Germany: DLR; Hungary: the Budapest University of Technology and Economics; India: the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Aerospace Laboratories; Italy: the Italian Aerospace Research Centre (Cira); Japan: Jaxa; Korea (South): the Korea Aerospace Research Institute; Netherlands: NLR; Poland: the Polish Institute of Aviation (ILOT); Portugal: the Centre for Innovation and Creative Engineering (CEIA); Romania: the Elie Carafoli National Institute of Aerospace Research (Incas); Russia: the Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute (TsAGI); South Africa: the CSIR; Spain: the National Institute of Aerospace Technology (INTA); Sweden: the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI); Turkey: the Middle East Technical University Ankara; the UK: the Aerospace Technology Institute; and the US: Nasa.
The IFAR holds annual summit meetings. The 2017 summit, which was the eighth, was held in Pretoria in late October, hosted by the CSIR. While in South Africa last year, Szodruch delivered an address to the Aeronautical Society of South Africa conference, which was also hosted by the CSIR.