Countdown to #aerodays2015: Greening of Aviation

With only 3 weeks to go until London hosts #aerodays2015 – Europe’s flagship event for aviation research and innovation – ADS will be blogging each week in the lead up to the event, highlighting the importance of the 5 separate themes of the conference.

This week, we are looking at the theme of ‘Greening of Aviation’ – which during the conference has 12 technical sessions across 3 days, a dedicated plenary session which includes the UK’s Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill MP, and will see researchers and policy makers meet to discuss the future approach to improving Aviation’s environmental footprint.

The ‘Greening of Aviation’ is perhaps the main driving force behind the future development of new technology across industry. The creation of new products, processes and services will be crucial in order to meet environmental regulations and targets, as well as improve overall aircraft efficiency levels and reduce the cost of flying.

Innovation in Aerospace design and engineering has continued to improve aviation’s environmental footprint – with projects ranging from the development and installation of fuel saving Wingtips, which have saved 20 billion litres of jet fuel since 2000 – to the development of Electric Taxiing systems, which could cut the CO2 emissions from taxing aircraft by around 73%. In 2013 alone, European industry invested around €16bn in aeronautics research & design (R&D) alone.

However, in order to meet ambitious future European and Global goals to reduce emissions, technology development must be part of a broader, more balanced approach – which includes a range of government, regulatory and industry stakeholders.

This week, the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) held their annual sustainable aviation summit in Geneva, which promoted this balanced approach across 4 key themes:

  • Technology & Sustainable Alternative Fuels: Through continued investment in new projects focused on improving environmental performance, alongside greater land use planning to promote the development of sustainable biofuels.
  • Operational Improvements: Developments from new lightweight cabin equipment, to replacing pilot manuals with tablet computers, will help to improve the operational efficiency of aircraft. Greater use of electrical power in and around aircraft movements in airports is also a key consideration.
  • Infrastructure: As mentioned in last week’s blog, improving Air Traffic Management (ATM) is a key aspect of ensuring a more interconnected transport system, but better use of airspace in the EU could save over 16 million tonnes of carbon emissions.
  • Market-based-measures: At the UN’s COP21 Climate Conference in Paris later this year, European Government’s must continue to reaffirm ICAO’s important role in developing a fair and genuinely global market based measure scheme, to ensure wide coverage and acceptable offset measures.

Europe has a key role to play across all four areas above – from working with industry to fund technology programmes such as SESAR and Clean Sky, to engaging proactively in global institutions to help develop a global emissions deal, rather than allow separate regional schemes to emerge. The technical sessions at Aerodays will be key place for industry and other stakeholders to discuss how best to approach these themes in practice.