In 2008, the aviation industry took an unprecedented step – it agreed a set of global climate goals, the first for any international transport sector, and a strategy to achieve them. The goals were ambitious but they also conveyed the message that the entire air transport community was engaged: airports, airlines, air traffic management and the makers of aircraft and engines all working together to address the urgent challenge of climate change. The actions taken to meet the first of those goals began some time ago and are highlighted in the Aviation Climate Solutions, a collection of 100 case studies of aviation’s climate action taking place across the world, right now.
Explore these examples, covering action by over 400 organisations in 65 countries in nine areas of climate action. They should inspire aviation partners to further increase fuel efficiency and CO2 reductions. And they should demonstrate to the world that the industry is committed to collaborative solutions.
Collaboration is inherent in most air transport operations. We collaborate to get 100,000 flights a day to their destination. And we are collaborating to reduce CO2 emissions. The climate challenge requires coordinated efforts being made by all sectors of business and society acting together.
Efficiency in the air
It’s not just about what aircraft we fly or what fuel we use, but also how we fly our planes. From take-off to landing, operational efficiency is vital to our story. An aircraft’s natural environment is in the sky – it is built to fly. So we are working on ways to make sure that the flight is as efficient as possible. Technology plays a major role here, but just as important are new ways of thinking.
Efficiency on the ground
Even though we try and keep the aircraft on the ground as little as possible, there are things we can do here to cut emissions too. Airports are the gateway to the air transport system. They are also impressively engaged in energy efficiency measures as part of wider environmental programmes. Airlines and other partners are also working on ground-based efficiency.
The air transport sector directly employs nearly nine million people worldwide. Each of them is an expert in their part of the bigger picture. Not only have many of these examples found ways to empower their employees to develop new and more efficient practices, but they are also working on ways of getting their teams to work in better ways.
We’ve been flying on the same type of fuel since the beginning of jet aircraft. Jet A-1 is perfect. But it is made from fossil sources and the time has come to move on. Over 2,000 commercial flights have taken place using alternative fuels so far. From now on, that will become an everyday occurrence. We are also looking at alternative energy for airports.
Building and construction
The efficiency with which our aircraft and terminals run is one thing, but industry partners are also working on ways to improve the manufacturing process itself. All manufacturers are working on efficiency processes for these plants and there are some examples here. At the same time, the building of airport terminals is leading the way in efficient construction practices.
Although the industry is doing a lot to cut CO2 emissions, a gap remains. How are businesses innovating to manage that carbon? Solutions include system-wide fuel efficiency programmes and carbon offset mechanisms. And airports are getting in on the act to, with one of the most comprehensive carbon management programmes anywhere.
Sometimes, it’s the small things that matter. Big changes are great, but the climate challenge will not only be solved in giant steps. Small steps are needed too. They don’t always make the news, but every day hundreds of engineers and experts across the sector are working to save half a percent of fuel or 1% of CO2 here and there. All these little innovations add up.
One of the most visible signs of technological progress in aviation is the launch of a new aircraft. It’s a big moment, following years of research and development. As they enter the fleet, the efficiency of the whole industry improves. Over 12,000 new aircraft will enter the fleet in the next few years.