Global aviation is responsible for about 2.5% of human-made CO2 emissions and also contributes to global warming through non-CO2 effects. Furthermore, the increase in air traffic volume is intensifying the situation.
The key challenge is therefore to minimise the impact on people and the environment. The path to climate-neutral aviation requires radical technologies in all areas. In addition to revolutionary aircraft and propulsion concepts, synthetic fuels and an optimal flight route also play a central role. The evolutionary further development of gas turbine concepts in combination with synthetic fuels already enables significantly emission-reduced air transport in the short term. Drop-in fuels do not require any modifications to the engine and can already reduce CO2 emissions by 40%. Sustainable aviation fuels will be an important technology for environmentally compatible air transport in the coming years. Fuels with the addition of sustainable aviation fuels can already be used in all aircraft and infrastructures without restriction or modification, exactly like conventional fuels. Measured against the existing global fleet, there is considerable potential to minimise climate-damaging effects, as both CO2 effects and non-CO2 effects can be reduced. Alternative fuels are already being used as drop-in fuels on commercial flights. However, the quantities are currently still less than 1% of global consumption. Barriers to large-scale introduction are currently production capacity and price.
At the Paris Climate Change Conference in December 2015, 195 countries signed a legally binding global climate agreement for the first time. The countries agreed to limit the global average temperature to a rise of less than 2 °C by substantially reducing emissions in order to significantly reduce the consequences of climate change. As described, emissions from aviation have a harmful effect in several respects and must therefore be reduced as a matter of urgency. It is not sufficient to consider CO2 emissions alone. In connection with the increasing growth of aviation, the central challenge will be to decouple growth from its consequences for people and the environment. Aviation research is investigating promising technological and operational options for this approach. In addition to combustion-based concepts such as alternative fuels and hydrogen in combination with new gas turbine concepts, the focus is on (hybrid) electric propulsion systems, as well as on the requirements for a future infrastructure. Innovative flight control concepts will also be considered. All aspects have an impact on the aircraft level and entail different requirements for the configuration of an aircraft.
We at AIRconomics, together with our partners of IFOA, are happy to support you and your company in the transformation towards a sustainable aviation company. The introduction of sustainable fuel, route optimisation and changes to many small processes can be the first step towards greener aviation.