By: Alexandra Romanenko, Non-profit Manager @ App in the Air
Two years ago, at App in the Air we launched a program called the ‘Carbon Neutral Traveler’. The main goal of that program was to empower our users to not only better understand the climate impact of air travel but to also guide them towards options with a lower carbon footprint. Since then we have developed several in-app features, organized social media campaigns and brought two amazing non-profit partners to help us. Today we are starting this new blog series that will inform you about what the aviation industry is doing in the reducing carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases.
The aviation industry’s commitment to its sustainability goals has never been stronger than now. As it slowly rebounds from what has been officially recognized as the worst year in aviation history, the talks about decarbonizing are heard from all the stakeholders: passengers to airlines to government officials. The only way to make environmental responsibility an integral part of the industry’s next stage of development is to come together and utilize any existing opportunity. Read on for the latest news from across the sector to keep you updated on the different sustainability initiatives in aviation.
The European Union announced its strategy to reduce emissions 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels called “Fit for 55”. A central component of this decarbonization plan is a blending mandate for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The World Economic Forum asked six CEOs and senior executives on their views of this initiative and a potential SAF blending mandate in Europe. Although, there are still a lot of challenges for a wide-spread use of SAF, experts agree that it will play a very important role in the next 20–30 years.
Rotterdam The Hague Airport has joined the Airport Carbon Accreditation program along with Bulgaria’s Varna Airport and Burgas Airport — they are both on a successful path to Level 2 ‘Reduction’. Airport Carbon Accreditation is the only institutionally-endorsed, global carbon management certification programme for airports. It independently assesses and recognizes the efforts of airports to manage and reduce their carbon emissions through 6 levels of certification: ‘Mapping’, ‘Reduction’, ‘Optimisation’, ‘Neutrality’, ‘Transformation’ and ‘Transition’.
Earlier this year, the Monterey Fuel Company — the parent company of Del Monte Aviation and Monterey Jet Center, which essentially serve as full-service gas stations at the Monterey airport — began offering customers sustainable aviation fuel made from renewable feedstocks like used cooking oil and tallow.
Malaysia Airlines and GE Digital partnered to transform and modernize the airline’s fuel efficiency program by adopting aviation software as a part of the airline’s ongoing initiative to meet its sustainability goals. A part of the software works by understanding data from the aircraft to uncover valuable intelligence that helps increase fuel efficiency and reduce waste. The other one puts data directly into the hands of pilots, allowing them to visualize their savings over time. Pilots who understand their performance can adjust their flight plans to maximize safety and fuel efficiency.
These past couple of months were exceptionally interesting for those who study supersonic aviation. On May 21, Aerion Corporation, which has been working to develop a supersonic business jet since 2003, abruptly ceased operations, citing the difficulty of raising capital. But on June 3, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby announced a deal to purchase 15 of Boom Supersonic’s “Overture” aircraft, with options for up to 35 more, if delivered as promised by 2029. Even though Boom commits to using sustainable aviation fuel to compensate for the higher climate impact of their supersonic aircrafts compared to subsonic ones, there are still questions about the available volumes of such fuels. Learn more about challenges that the development of supersonic aircraft faces.
This paper by the ICCT investigated the CO2 emissions of different itineraries of 20 popular U.S. domestic routes from 2019. It found that the least-polluting itinerary on a route can emit 63% less CO2 than the most-polluting option, and 22% less than the average. However, identifying lower-emitting itineraries is not that straightforward. While nonstop flights and the use of fuel-efficient aircraft or airlines are likely to emit less than alternative itineraries, there are many exceptions, including seating configuration, load factors, and other operational parameters. The results also suggest that choosing less-emitting itineraries likely should not increase costs for consumers.
Lastly, our reforestation partner, One Tree Planted, is a finalist in the Defender Above & Beyond Service Award, environmental category. This award celebrates U.S.-based charitable organizations that are making a positive impact, and winners will receive a customized Land Rover Defender. To help One Tree Planted win go to the voting page, where you can check out the film about the charity and cast your vote. You can vote once per day through 8/23 so make sure to come back tomorrow and vote again!
Is there a story we missed? Tell us in the comments!