From the SDGs: Relevant targets

9.1) Develop quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure, including regional and transborder infrastructure, to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access for all.

9.2) Promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and, by 2030, significantly raise industry’s share of employment and gross domestic product, in line with national circumstances, and double its share in least developed countries.

9.4) By 2030, upgrade infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes, with all countries taking action in accordance with their respective capabilities.

9.5) Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending.

From the SDGs: Aviation-relevant indicators

9.1.2) Passenger and freight volumes, by mode of transport

9.3.1) Proportion of small-scale industries in total industry value added

9.4.1) CO2 emission per unit of value added

9.5.1) Research and development expenditure as a proportion of GDP

9.5.2) Researchers (in full-time equivalent) per million inhabitants

9.B.1) Proportion of medium and high-tech industry value added in total value added

Did you know?

Each year, aerospace companies spend around $20 billion on research and development, whilst airports invest around $35 billion on new infrastructure.

Relevance to aviation


Aviation is one of the most innovative industries in the world. The manufacturing sector is continually developing new technology and creates significant urban infrastructure through the building of airports, as well as air traffic management. Aviation has always been a driver of innovation. Each new generation of aircraft is 15-20% more fuel efficient than the generation it replaces, but more comprehensive partnerships between commercial manufacturers and governments on research and development (R&D) are needed if this progress is to be built on.

Examples of action

  • Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) have announced an agreement to expand their joint technology research centre in China.
  • Aerospace manufacturers, such as Airbus and Boeing have been at the forefront of additive layer manufacturing (otherwise known as 3D printing).
  • According to the Toronto Region Board of Trade, the value of airport infrastructure in Canada was collectively $59 billion in GDP in 2015
  • Airbus Group has started the ‘Airnovation Summer Academy’, which aims to foster innovative talent by presenting participants with real-world aerospace problems to solve. Airbus also runs the BizLab, which invites start-ups to showcase their ideas, with the prospect of investment from Airbus.
  • The Clean Sky Joint Undertaking, a collaborative effort between the European Commission and industry manufacturers, is currently undertaking ground-breaking work on efficiency technology
  • GMR Group, which operates Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, has designed the new Terminal 3 building to comply with the LEED Gold standard.

How governments can assist

  • Develop quality aviation infrastructure (including air navigation systems and airports) commensurate with the level of predicted traffic growth and based on the ICAO’s global plans.
  • Ensure good land use planning practices are used for all airport-related development, to protect both airport expansion opportunities and local community impacts.
  • Make aviation development a key part of economic development plans, particularly as least developed countries work with international partners and multilateral development banks on economic and social growth.
  • Put in place measures to improve air traffic management procedures to simplify flight paths and allow aircraft to fly more efficient routes and thus reduce fuel use. There is significant scope for governments to put in place measures to improve air traffic management (ATM) procedures. While more efficient air navigation technology and procedures now exist, much work remains for governments to put them in place. As many air navigation service providers (ANSPs) are state-owned, this is of particular importance.
  • Establish and apply good governance for air transport: the institutional, regulatory, and policy frameworks, in which air transport is designed, implemented and managed.
    • Liberalise air transport at national, bilateral and regional levels.
    • Ensure that regulations should facilitate transformation and new technologies and should be, where ever practicable, performance-based and not prescriptive.
    • Separate States’ oversight function from the operations of airports and air navigation services, and consider an independent business model for the provision of these services.
    • Adhere to international air law instruments and observe ICAO’s policies, especially on charges and taxation.
  • Establish or continue financial support of industry-government partnerships in research and development.
  • Encourage integrated links between airports and other ground-based transport modes to help connect people and businesses through increased and efficient mobility. Transport systems must be designed as easy to use, frequent, convenient, integrated and available to all sections of society.