France: ONERA and EIB Sign EUR 47m, EC-Supported Loan for Wind Tunnel Renovation
(Source: European Investment Bank; issued April 16, 2019)
France’s state-owned and -operated ONERA, which operates a wide range of test infrastructure including Europe’s largest wind tunnel, has obtained a loan from the European Investment Bank to renovate its wind tunnels. (Onera photo)
As announced by French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly during her trip to Palaiseau on 10 January, the EIB is to provide ONERA with a EUR 47 million loan to modernise its wind tunnel facilities, which are the most extensive in Europe.

ONERA Chairman and CEO Bruno Sainjon and European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle signed a finance contract on 16 April at ONERA's site in Modane Avrieux, during a visit to one of the large wind tunnels.

This loan was announced by French Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly during her trip to ONERA's Palaiseau site on 10 January.

The EIB is providing these funds as part of InnovFin Science, a joint initiative from the EIB and European Commission specifically designed to fund research, development and innovation in Europe and supported by the EU's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

This financing under the European security and defence initiative is the first granted by the EIB to a defence organisation in Europe. It will make it possible to consolidate wind tunnel infrastructure and modernise metrological instruments. In a letter published on 13 February 2012, European manufacturers categorised ONERA's eight large wind tunnels covered by this project as “core”.

This loan is a strong commitment in the face of international competition as well as a guarantee – ONERA is on the cutting edge of European aerospace research and will stay there.

ONERA Chairman and CEO Bruno Sainjon said: “This represents a major commitment from the Government – supported by the European Investment Bank – that will enable ONERA and its wind tunnels in particular to remain on the cutting edge of global aerospace innovation.”

European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas commented: “This operation is another example of the European Commission's support for research and innovation in the EU. These EUR 47m will help us to meet the aerospace and space exploration challenges of the future, and will improve the competitiveness of our aerospace industry.”

EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle said: “This financing under the EU's InnovFin programme is supporting a global pacesetter in aerospace innovation with its development outlook. It also shows that the EU bank is an important player in ensuring the security of EU citizens.”

Under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme for 2014-20, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank Group (EIB and EIF) launched a new generation of financial instruments and advisory services in 2014 to help innovative firms access finance more easily. Until 2020, InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators is offering a range of customised products providing financing support for research and innovation (R&I) by small, medium-sized and large companies and promoters of research infrastructure.

Backed by funds set aside under Horizon 2020 and by the EIB Group, InnovFin – EU Finance for Innovators financial products will be used to support R&I activities, which by their nature are riskier and harder to assess than traditional investments, and therefore often face difficulties in accessing finance. All are demand-driven instruments, with no prior allocations between sectors, countries or regions. Firms and other entities located in EU Member States and Horizon 2020 Associated Countries may become final beneficiaries.


ONERA, a major player in aerospace and space research, employs 1 985 people. Under the supervision of the French Ministry for the Armed Forces, ONERA has a budget of EUR 228 million, more than half of which comes from commercial contracts. As a national expert, ONERA prepares tomorrow's defences, meets the aerospace challenges of the future, and contributes to the competitiveness of the aerospace industry. It masters all of the disciplines and technologies in its field.

All major civil and military aerospace programmes in France and Europe – Ariane, Airbus, Falcon, Rafale, missiles, helicopters, engines, radars, etc. – bear the mark of ONERA. Its internationally renowned team of researchers have won many awards and mentor a number of doctoral students.

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