Manufacturers are always trying to build more efficient aircraft and engines, reducing fuel use and CO2 emissions. The United Nations’ specialised aviation agency, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is taking this further and drawing up international regulations setting minimum fuel efficiency requirements for aircraft.

In 2013 ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), which includes representatives from Member State governments, civil society and industry, approved the structure of a certification requirement for new aircraft models, requiring manufacturers to produce aircraft that meet the efficiency standard.

While the general policy behind the CO2 standard is fairly simple and is fully supported by the aviation industry, the technicalities are a little more complex. The regulations drawn up tell manufacturers how to measure CO2 emissions levels, taking into consideration size, weight and the varying stages of flight and conditions encountered.

In early 2016, CAEP members are expected to reach an agreement on the standard’s stringency and applicability. Once the final political sign-off is agreed by ICAO Member States, the baseline will be set to ensure aircraft comply with a high standard of fuel efficiency.


UPDATE - On February 2016, ICAO announced the agreement on a CO2 Standard that will apply to all new aircraft designs launched after 2020 and for all existing aircraft types rolling off the production line from 2023. The Standard will be formally adopted by the ICAO Council later in 2016.