The beginning of 2016 saw a historic milestone passed in the field of aviation climate action, with the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) concluding technical requirements that set a CO2 emissions standard for new aircraft. This is the first such technical standard for aircraft CO2 emissions, coming into line with similar global standards for safety, noise and NOx emissions.

Aviation has always been focused on increasing efficiency, but the new standard will complement and support this market-driven progression. It will apply to all new aircraft models entering service after 2020 and will also be phased in for all existing aircraft types rolling off the production line from 2023, even if they were designed and launched prior to 2020. A production cut-off date of 2028 has been recommended for any aircraft that does not comply with the CO2 Standard.

Like many other certification standards, it is likely that this one dealing with CO2 will be reviewed in the future, to take into account further technological developments. The fact that a standard is in place means that the biggest step has already been made, allowing for enhancement in future years.

The standard ensures that older aircraft models end production in an appropriate time frame and that manufacturers invest in technology to improve their efficiency. The standard also ensures that new designs go beyond the highest fuel efficiency of today’s aircraft.