REAL CONSERVATION

Aviation sustainability a new urgency

A shared vision is underway amongst seven of the world’s top aviation manufacturers to tackle climate change. In June at the Paris Air Show, the chief technology officers of Boeing, Airbus, Safran, GE Aviation, Roll-Royce, UTC and Dassault vowed to cooperate to drive sustainability in the aviation industry.

The pledge would develop aircraft and engine design technology in what they called “a relentless pursuit of improvements in fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions”. They would also support the commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) while developing radically new aircraft and propulsion technology, as well as accelerating technologies that would enable the third generation of aviation.

According to Steve Creedy of Airline Ratings, it has been more than a decade since the climate became a heated topic of discussion at IATA and the industry set its goal to reduce CO2 emissions to half by 2050.

As the seven CTOs noted, however, it isn’t just airlines that need to address sustainability: air traffic management and new ways of routing aircraft to minimize fuel also have a an important role to play, as well as governments.

Aircraft and engine makers have done their bit for the last 40 years with technology that has reduced C02 emissions by a yearly average of more than one percent per passenger mile. While this has been largely a result of airlines wanting to reduce costs, it has also had the add-on effect of offsetting the impact of the industry’s spectacular growth.

The CTO’s agreed this was the result “of significant R&D investments in materials, aerodynamic efficiency, digital design and manufacturing methods, turbomachinery developments and aircraft systems optimization”.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines in June announced it would also step forward and called upon everyone to join forces in creating a more sustainable future for aviation. Under the name Fly Responsibly, the airline commits itself to achieving maximum progress. With an open letter, published in a wide range of international newspapers, it invited all involved – including other airlines and air travellers – to take action.
 
An online video and platform support the initiative. KLM has committed itself to sharing its sustainability learnings, best practices and tools with competitors. On top of this, it will organise panel discussions and other events to explore all realistic options for making progress and it will prompt travellers to consider their responsibility before taking a plane.
 
KLM chief executive, Pieter Elbers, suggested the biggest challenge facing the aviation industry “is to keep our licence to operate.” To do that,” he said, “We must make sure we operate in a good way.”
 
The aviation industry accounts for two to three percent of the man-made CO2 emissions in the world.
 
Meanwhile, AirAsia has embarked on guest education programmes, rolled out carbon reduction and waste management policies, and implemented the collection and separation of recyclable items on flights and in their offices.
 
Airlines have spent countless hours working to reduce their aircrafts’ weight in order to reduce fuel consumption and subsequent carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In a bid to further shed weight, AirAsia replaced bulky pilot manuals with sleek tablets and reduced the amount of water carried on a flight for washbasins and toilets.
 
And in August, AirAsia took delivery of the first of two A330neos set to join the airline’s fleet by the end of the year. The A330neo provides 25% lower fuel burn per seat than previous generation competitors, the company said.
 
Airline Ratings; Globe & Mail; Asean Post
  • By:
  • itdc|
  • FRONTIERS VOL. #6|
  • 01 September 2019|