Mallory Libex | April 1, 2021

Sustainability in the Aviation Industry

Sustainability in the Aviation Industry

COVID-19 continues to bring new passengers to business aviation. In 2020, charter jet companies saw a 25 percent increase in bookings and a 300 percent jump in first-time private aviation customers, according to the Robb Report.

Even in the midst of the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, a growing number of corporations are adopting sustainability initiatives. Business leaders are driving change in every area of their organization – and that includes travel. Frequent fliers who are increasingly concerned about climate change and executives managing corporate responsibility efforts have a common interest: sustainable aviation.

Top aviation organizations and businesses are also keen to reduce the industry’s environmental impact. Over the last 10 years, aviation stakeholders have set ambitious targets for decarbonization and infrastructure improvements.

In 2009, the Business Aviation Coalition for Sustainable Aviation Fuel committed to become carbon-neutral from 2020 onward. In a similar move, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and its members pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2050. Meanwhile,Rolls-Royce, a leading engine manufacturer, set a goal to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel 

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) is one way companies are working to improve carbon emissions. It’s produced from sustainable feedstocks such as cooking oil, animal waste fat or even fast growing plants and algae. Compared to jet fuels made from traditional fossil fuels, SAF creates fewer carbon emissions over the lifecycle of the fuel.

SAF can drop straight into existing infrastructure and aircraft. Most impressively, SAF can provide a carbon reduction of up to 80 percent when used in place of traditional jet fuel.

Reduce Fuel Consumption

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Better fuel is just one step toward sustainable aviation. There are also opportunities to use fuel more efficiently. Artificial intelligence is emerging as one of the best routes to curb fuel consumption.

SkyBreathe, a fuel-efficiency platform, enables airlines to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 5 percent. Not only does this have the potential to reduce thousands of tons of C02 but it also could translate to millions of dollars saved each year since jet fuel represents a significant portion of operating costs.

SkyBreathe uses sophisticated algorithms, artificial Intelligence and machine learning to analyze billions of data records. It then dovetails this data with real-time environmental data and flight information such as payload, weather conditions and ATC constraints.

The platform then comes up with recommendations for operational actions that can potentially save fuel consumption by up to 5 percent.

While these advances are significant steps toward sustainability, meaningful improvement will require cooperation across the industry. That’s because jets themselves represent a small sliver of the carbon emissions pie. Commercial and private aviation combined accounted for just 2.4 percent of total CO2 emissions globally in 2018.

We will also have to change the way we build our hangars, outfit our aircraft interiors and operate our charter services.

LEED Certified Hangars and FBOs

When leaders at the Gary Jet Center near Chicago, IL, needed to build a new hangar and FBO, energy-efficiency was a top priority. In an interview with the NBAA, Gary Jet Center President Lynn Eplawy said that pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification offered the greatest opportunity for greenhouse emission reductions at the lowest cost.

Eplawy explained:

“What’s interesting is that buildings themselves use 40% of global energy, 25% of global water and 40% of global resources, and they emit approximately a third of all greenhouse gas emissions.”

Improvements to the buildings and structures that support aviation could offer the most “bang for your buck” when it comes to sustainability. LEED certification is available for virtually all building types. This global recognized certification program provides a framework for highly-efficient and cost-saving green buildings as well as a path to earn certification for retrofit projects.

Sustainable Aircraft Improvements 

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Interior and exterior aircraft improvements offer another avenue to promote sustainability. The use of sustainable materials in aircraft interiors is on the rise. Renewable and biodegradable bio-based materials as well as products made from recycled plastics are more widely available. Manufacturers are creating eco-friendly architectural materials that pass certification requirements for use in new aircraft as well as aircraft modifications.

Existing aircraft can benefit from performance improvements. Tamarack Aerospace manufactures winglets that raise the effective aspect ratio of the aircraft wing without the added structural weight of conventional winglets. This relatively minor modification can help planes fly 33% farther on the same tank of fuel.

Tamarack CEO and sales director Nick Guida told the NBAA, “Upcycling an existing product is not just smart; it’s really the core of sustainability.”

Innovation Is Key to Sustainable Aviation

It’s clear innovation is key to sustainable aviation. The incremental changes in the way we fuel our planes, configure our aircraft cabins and support air travel make an impact now and will continue to make an impact in the future. As we push the industry forward, we must set challenging goals and work toward advancements that will make private aviation safer, healthier and more sustainable.

Omni Aircraft Sales

At Omni Aircraft Sales we always work to innovate and improve the customer experience.  Whether you are looking to buy, sell or trade, our experienced team can be an experienced partner on your side. Our transparent process, Code of Ethics and exceptional customer care demonstrate our high standards in every aspect of our business. Learn more about the long-term benefits of aircraft ownership by calling 24/7 at (918) 836-4050.

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