Competitive research requires integration of expertises, capability and scientific leadership to attract the best scientists from different organizations and create opportunities for cross—fertilization effects between fundamental science and application. Up-to-date environmental
science does not make an exception as it builds upon of highly standardised monitoring networks and global scale earth observations.
But a missing scale in ecosystem monitoring still exist to properly bridge observations which are made at the leaf/canopy to the global scales.
Aircraft and airborne sensors are ideal to operate at such “missing scale”.
Aircraft can be used to operate a range of sensors to monitoring atmospheric properties along vertical profiles (de Arellano et al., 2004), to perform surface flux measurements using airborne eddy covariance techniques (Gioli et al., 2004) and to deploy different types of remote sensing equipment for both passive and active land surface monitoring. Airborne science has considerably grown over the last few years, together with the advent of a new generation of airborne sensors (Crawford et al., 1996), of new small environmental research aircraft (SERA, Gioli et al. 2006) and of new international initiatives that have substantially promoted airborne science. Among those, EUFAR, an Integrating Activity of the 7th Framework Program of the European Commission, is of particular relevance since it finally brought together 33 European institutions and companies involved in airborne research, operating 22 instrumented aircraft and providing access to 6 hyperspectral instruments.
EUFAR objectives were to provide scientists with easy access to the most complete panoply of research infrastructures, to develop trans-national access to national infrastructures and to improve the service by strengthening expertise through exchange of knowledge, development of standards and protocols, constitution of data bases, and joint instrumental research activities.
Despite such extraordinary efforts, the use of airborne platform for environmental research still remains limited. The reason for this may be found in the existence of a major cultural gap between users and providers. The scientists, on one hand, have clearly too little experience on how aircraft and airborne sensors should be operated and managed to maximize their scientific value. They also miss adequate experience on the severe requirements that aircraft and airborne sensor must fulfill to be actually deployed for scientific purposes. The operators, on the other hand, have often inadequate understanding of the scientific questions and of the technical specifications and requirement of scientific missions using airborne instrumentation. They also miss crucial information on the ecological significance of the measurements and the long-term objectives of the science.
AIRFORS is designed to fill this gap bringing together a public organization engaged in environmental research (FEM) and a private company (AT) with excellent records in conducting airborne measurements and campaign and in operating up-to-date airborne sensors. In this way it will contribute substantially to the development of a transnational public-private partnership aimed at the promotion of unique earth observation and
atmospheric measurement infrastructure, at multiple scales. Some infrastructures already exists in some EU Members States linking public research with private companies, but these are normally large government infrastructures like DLR in Germany, Meteo France and the Meteorological Office in the UK. AIRFORS will be complementary to those large units as it will operate at smaller scales and costs with higher flexibility, creating an almost unique case for Europe.
In the specific frame of the Marie Curie Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP), the project will pursue the specific objective of establishing prolonged bilateral staff exchange to favour scientific and technology transfer between the public and private partners in three major areas:
• Tri-dimensional airborne remote sensing using laser technologies
• Aircraft operations, mission execution
• Airborne measurement in the atmosphere including surface flux measurements
• Ecosystem monitoring requirements with emphasis on forests

In a schematic way, AIRFORS will promote a two-way interaction between the two organizations.
More details on methodologies and the necessary link with the main objectives is addressed in the relevant WP sections. This document addresses in particular some weaknesses that were noted by the reviewers in the evaluation.

Project objectives are focused in the workpackage structure:
• each WP identifies a number of goals that will be reached through the implementation phase
• knoweldge transfer actions, that are clearly defined, will be accompanied by operational activities to obtain new data and results
• the use of quantum cascade laser unit for stable isotope measurements is now better described and its value for novel scientific missions,           emphasized
• the role of recruited and seconded staff is outlined and properly identified
• a dissemination and outreach plan is described in more details
• a justification for extra equipment for the SME is provided