Article | July 26, 2022
Each year airlines begin new sustainability initiatives, experiment with biofuels, and offset their carbon emissions on selected flights; yet, sustainability should not only be a topic of discussion when an aircraft is in the air but also when it’s on the ground.
In just one year, a Boeing 777, 787, Airbus A330, and A350, burn an extra 265,000 litres of fuel due to the 1% increase in drag. As a result, a full year’s operations of such an aircraft costs US$77,600 more than during the previous year. A dirty aircraft exterior is full of microscopic patches of dust and mud that impact the airliner’s operational efficiency by creating turbulent airflow across the whole fuselage. While the problem of additional drag is not new, there are no solutions to combat it other than performing regular cleaning of the aircraft’s exterior.
Reducing drag – through cleaning – on aircraft fuselage, wings, engine cowlings, and stabilizer brings another challenge; how to remain sustainable while performing the exterior cleaning process? A popular, yet wasteful pressurized water cleaning technique requires more than 11,300 litres of water to clean one Airbus A380 aircraft and more than 9,500 litres to clean a Boeing 777. Traditionally, aircraft are cleaned four to five times per year, and with more than 48 thousand airframes in the world, the amount of water used each year is immense. As a result, the positives of clean fuselages are outweighed by the negatives of wasteful usage of expensive and environmentally important resources.
This raises a question: whether it is possible to be eco-friendly in the aviation industry when one solution brings even more challenges than benefits? While the answer may look complicated, the definite answer is yes. The use of robots in household applications has proven that robotification is an inevitable and much-needed process to achieve even more efficient operational performance.
One of the solutions to address the inefficient and time-consuming process of washing an aircraft fuselage is to employ an aircraft exterior cleaning robot. The market offerings like Nordic Dino, have been perfected and adapted to work with a wide range of aircraft fuselage types. Such robots are designed to minimize the use of water and detergent on every wash; saving more than 30% more water when compared to traditional washing methods. At the same time, built with sustainability in mind, the robots can be equipped with electric motors, further minimizing the environmental impact.
“Sustainability and eco-friendliness should not be viewed as challenges or impossible achievements in the aviation industry. By utilizing the right equipment, finding alternatives to polluting methods, and increasing efficiency at every step possible, companies could come one step closer to operational efficiency as well as sustainability targets. Our offering, Nordic Dino can reduce the use of water and detergent and can be powered by electricity, reducing carbon and nitrogen dioxide emissions. By the robotification of the cleaning process we present a solution to MROs and dedicated aircraft cleaning companies to become green.” – commented Jan Brunstedt, CEO of Aviator Robotics AB.
Article | January 28, 2022
The aviation industry has allowed people to connect the world in unimaginable ways. Due to this, it has contributed massively to social and economic development globally.
However, the aviation sector produces nearly 1.8% of annual carbon emissions. It is almost half of the total growth in carbon dioxide emissions in the last twenty years due to the expansion of flights, increasing routes, and airline sizes.
In the loop, the commercial aviation sector has also been affected by climate change. The change is due to increased noise levels, air pollution, and waste production.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the industry recorded 2.8% of global CO2 emissions in 2019. But now, the industry has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050 through a focus on a critical low-carbon strategy, says IATA. By looking at this futuristic development, airline businesses are becoming more and more optimistic.
The Action Plan
The aviation industry has taken steps to reduce rising carbon emissions. The industry had framed targets that included carbon-neutral growth before the pandemic. But the pandemic compelled the industry to make some critical decisions. One of them is to fasten the action plan for low-carbon development.
McKinsey recently studied the industry’s emissions. According to the report, the industry's aviation emissions would be reduced by 18 to 35 percent by 2030. However, as the aviation industry’s growth is recorded from Asia, including India, China, and Southeast Asia, decarbonization can only work if airlines from these nations actively participate in the development.
“For aviation, zero-carbon is a bold, audacious commitment. But it is also necessary.”
-IATA Director General Willie Walsh
Airlines and other businesses are under pressure to make rapid progress towards lower emissions. It is because breakthrough technology like hydrogen-powered planes has started manufacturing.
For example, British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Inc., and United Airlines Holding Inc. have already made net-zero commitments by introducing hydrogen-powered planes. Similarly, JetBlue Airways Corp has set a target of 2040 to introduce low-carbon planes in no time.
So, by looking at above comitments, how will aviation progress in terms of low-carbon development? What are those fundamental ways that’ll guide the industry to see a sustainable future in real life?
4 Ways Aviation will Look Forward to Reducing Carbon Emissions
Aviation considers green fuel as one of the quickest paths to low carbon development. Green fuel can be a game-changer in lessening carbon emission impacts. But, furthermore, it can lead to drastic climate change. Green fuel, also known as sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), is made from renewable sources such as plants or waste.
As per IATA, SAF can cut carbon emissions by nearly 80%.
But specific concerns like cost and availability are equally essential to think about. For example, the United States and other countries consider subsidies to decrease prices and increase supplies. They are practicing this due to limited availability. Also, some airlines are blending small amounts into the fuel they buy for their aircraft.
Other concerns, such as planes running properly on pure SAF, are also highlighted. In addition, flight engines based on petroleum fuel rely on their oily qualities to lubricate parts and function appropriately. So, it's unclear if green fuels offer that amount of strength in their engines to fly a flight.
Despite so many heated concerns (that are valid), the industry still looks good as Boeing (BA.N) studies the above issue. It has even committed to ensuring its planes are certified for 100% SAF by 2030.
Lower Carbon Technologies
Technological improvements to lower carbon emissions include retrofitting existing aircraft, adopting the latest fuel-efficient aircraft, retiring old aircraft, and others.
Several ongoing electric or hybrid-electric aircraft technology projects are in the pipeline. They are being identified to enter the industry between 2022-2030. In contrast, some of them are already in service.
Developments in Infrastructure
The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has created plans to reduce fuel burn and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). The plans have been forwarded to optimize communication, navigation, surveillance (CNS), and air transport management (ATM) regarding zero-carbon development.
Apart from this, airlines are also working to align emission cuts with investments. Consumption of fuel usually covers 20-30% of operational costs. It is one of the highest costs of an airline business. So now airlines are considering adopting fuel-efficient flying and airport operations.
Today, aviation needs more stakeholders for a sustainable future. They can only increase the efficiencies and development of SAF.
Stakeholders from technology providers, oil companies, and energy production could drive demand and help bridge the cost gap. For instance, airlines commit to buying SAF at a particular price or at a different price than traditional fuel jets. These factors could eliminate market risks for fuel suppliers.
Next, airlines can work with B2B customers willing to pay for the decarbonization initiative. For example, airlines could use loyalty-program rewards as incentives for every customer to choose airlines that use SAF. Collaborations like these can help the industry accelerate its low carbon emission initiatives.
These Top Airlines Commit to Using New Technologies
Aviation industry leaders aim for 30% of the aircraft to operate with the help of new technologies by 2030. They strongly support the introduction of hydrogen and electric-powered planes to the market in order to reduce the industry's carbon footprint.
So, let’s see the airlines and their commitment to creating a sustainable aviation future.
Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand’s initiatives such as True Target Zero accelerate the adoption of zero-emission aircraft worldwide. Air New Zealand is delighted to work with other industry leaders working towards net-zero goals.
“Air New Zealand pledges to put low carbon solutions in place for all our smaller domestic and regional flights in the future. However, we know that the drive to decarbonize the aviation industry is impossible for one airline to tackle alone. Rather it’s a joint venture, and it's all about joining hands together.”
-David Morgan, Chief Operational Integrity & Safety Officer, Air New Zealand
Mokulele Airlines and Southern Airways
Mokulele Airlines, the largest intra-state carrier in America, has already worked for many years as a maven to bring electrification to its air transportation system.
“We are satisfied to join the World Economic Forum in seeking a global public commitment to promoting sustainable air travel.”
-Stan Little, Chairman & CEO, Mokulele Airlines and Southern Airways
Braathens Regional Airlines
The airline has the ambition to make its flights fossil-free by 2030. The airline has included electric planes, and with its partnership with True Zero Aviation, it is taking steps to accelerate towards actual low carbon emissions.
Can Aviation Make a Difference in the New Path of Development?
There are a lot of positive aviation stories from all over the globe. However, aviation also has some barriers to the new path of low-carbon development. Nevertheless, aviation can undoubtedly make a difference by introducing technologies, implementing result-driven strategies, implementing the right tools, and many more.
But from the customers' perspective, choosing to fly less can be another good reason to reduce an individual’s carbon pollution. The reduction can be up to 50% each year. So even avoiding long-distance flight travel could make a significant difference to aviation.
Business travelers could adopt or choose to use virtual meeting technology. These could be other crucial factors limiting the carbon footprint in the atmosphere.
Whatever you choose to opt for, it is high time to contribute to a more sustainable aviation sector for the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can airlines reduce their carbon footprint?
Airlines can introduce more efficient aircraft. Efficiency in technological aspects, reduce flight delays, and increase the use of sustainable lower-carbon or alternative fuels. Also, investment plays a vital role here. They can invest in emissions initiatives and promote low-carbon travel.
How can an airline achieve its carbon-neutral goals?
An airline can explore hybrid and electric aircraft technology to reach carbon-neutral goals, reduce carbon emissions using SAF, and embrace fewer flight routes (distance).
Do aircraft harm the atmosphere?
Aircraft create very polluting elements and are highly challenging means of transport. Indeed, air traffic represents less than 2%-3% of the global CO2 emissions, yet it transmits direct CO2 emissions than cars on roads.
Article | June 2, 2022
Drones may be troublesome at some points in the supply chain. It can cause many hurdles and safety hazards. But what about the vast potential that drones carry to assist and even improve safety?
The topic of discussion in this blog revolves around drones in the supply chain. Are these advantageous or troublesome? The blog showcases both sides of the coin.
According to the global commercial drone market’s study, drones are expected to witness growth of 26%. It is going to reach a value of $10,738m by 2022. Aren’t these figures impressive?
While the pandemic has forced industries and businesses to increase touch-less mechanisms, the increasing demand for contactless deliveries has given drones a wide-ranging opportunity to be reliable. Did you know that over twenty thousand drones are registered for commercial use with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today? Many of which are already being used in the supply chain process.
A study by MarketsandMarkets indicates the drone package delivery market might surge from $528 million in 2020 to $39 billion in 2030 at a rate of 53.8%. Similarly, Gartner estimates that drone delivery will reduce delivery costs by 70%.
These show a promising future for drone technology to hover industries and would significantly affect customers across the globe.
How Exactly are Drones Changing Supply Chain Processes?
Automation is becoming a comprehensive solution in the distribution industry. A report by the Brookings Institute mentions that over 70% of jobs may be automated. In that case, drone technology is the main focus today.
On the other hand, some view automation as a threat. But with the help of automation, drones would make manual jobs redundant and destroy industries like aviation, transportation, production, and others involved throughout the global supply chain. However, several defenders of automation note that drone technology rarely replaces manual work. Instead, it tends to free up workers from a challenging workforce, reduces workloads and increases efficiency. As a result of this, companies become more productive.
In the realm of the supply chain process, drones offer the chance to completely change inventory management ways and shipping methods. And thus, companies can operate quicker and errorless management.
“As drones prove to be the next automation technology within the supply chain, businesses globally would do well. But to incur drone technology to their operations, they need to start investigating strategies to see if they would suitable their business model. My advice is to start looking for help from experts to understand the technological challenges, facts, and boundaries of using drones as part of your supply chain processes before going all-in too quickly.”
- Trish Young’s, UK Head of Business Consulting – Retail, Consumer Goods, Travel & Hospitality at Cognizant.
Let’s get into the advantages of drones that supply chain companies and industries are already reaping.
Advantages of Drones
Monitoring Supply Chain Delivery Courses
Drones in the supply chain assist in monitoring supply chain courses for barriers. Therefore, it could positively impact the entire delivery process via transport carriers . In addition, drones are used for monitoring road conditions and other hazards in the delivery process. In this way, a delivery operator can quickly select an alternative shipping process and make efforts to achieve a faster or on-time delivery.
Drones in Warehouses
Drones in warehouses can be used for inventory counting, improving safety before the supply process starts. Warehouses are full of products kept for supply or shipping to different locations via different modes of transport. In this case, using drones, the scanning of products and data will be faster by having barcodes. In addition, as drones are much safer, they eliminate the need for workers to scale up monitoring and thus save time. Here are some other ways drones can help warehouses in:
Providing better accuracy
Reducing human labor costs
Reducing workplace injuries
Streamline inventory tasks
Realistic Applications for Drones in Supply Chain
Skyward is involved in developing the digital airspace infrastructure around industrial drones. In addition, the company is working on designing software for drones that will assist in the supply chain industries.
“I can tell you this from an engineering background that it is now possible to deliver goods using drones under five pounds, which is 86 percent of Amazon’s inventory, within a 30-minute of radius,”
- Jonathan Evans, the CEO of Skyward
Drones in the supply chain in demand due to its capabilities. Skyward determines the practical application of this technology and develops it for future purposes.
Amazon’s Prime Air is a new drone technology-driven pilot program. Amazon is currently focusing on smaller packages under the 5lb range under its supply chain process. Amazon drone delivery is one of the most innovative services, and other companies are getting inspired to develop their drone-enabled supply chain program.
Walmart is also taking the approach and reaping the advantages of drones. However, it is going miles apart in terms of using the technology for its supply chain process. Walmart has partnered with some prominent drone companies like Flytrex and Zipline. Flytrex and Zipline are currently doing pilot programs for supply chains and deliveries.
As drone technology has already taken to the skies and is already operational, it is yet to be seen how quickly regulatory agencies allow the technology to operate without legal restrictions. More than one million drones are ready to take to the skies by 2022. But hurdles like safety risks, privacy issues, and security interference cannot be ignored. In addition, the military and commercial aircraft industry is posing valid concerns about sharing airspace and air interference. There are challenges like the susceptibility to hacking or theft, collision, and high insurance costs that have become a hurdle regarding drones in the supply chain process.
Further, the technology has many limitations that need to be highlighted. Limitations like limited battery life might restrict the operational duration. In addition, weather conditions also need to be taken into consideration. Whether drones can operate during high winds or rains. All these factors might impact supply chain management and may restrict the use of drones further.
However, the role of drones by supply chain companies is only going to ascend in the future. R&D companies are working hard to overcome significant challenges. They are working to provide more and more opportunities above all obstacles to optimize supply chain operations efficiently.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can drones be used efficiently in the supply chain?
Drones in the supply chain can be used efficiently to deliver at a low rate to rural areas. Also, it can eliminate the need for road transportation to save time, be more secure and faster.
How will drones impact the supply chain?
Drones in the supply chain will have a massive impact. Drones will improve service scenarios in industries and reduce costs, workforce, and capital. It can be helpful to manage and monitor inventory set up for products.
What kinds of jobs can drones replace?
Drones can replace five kinds of jobs. They are:
Capturing difficult footage
Enabling detailed monitoring
Spotting errors and implementing an error-free workflow
Assimilating huge data records
"name": "How can drones be used efficiently in the supply chain?",
"text": "Drones in the supply chain can be used efficiently to deliver at a low rate to rural areas. Also, it can eliminate the need for road transportation to save time, be more secure and faster."
"name": "How will drones impact the supply chain?",
"text": "Drones in the supply chain will have a massive impact. Drones will improve service scenarios in industries and reduce costs, workforce, and capital. It can be helpful to manage and monitor inventory set up for products."
"name": "What kinds of jobs can drones replace?",
"text": "Drones can replace five kinds of jobs. They are:
Capturing difficult footage
Enabling detailed monitoring
Spotting errors and implementing an error-free workflow
Assimilating huge data records"
Article | July 26, 2022
A New System That Aims to Create Carbon-Neutral Aviation
Scientists have achieved an amazing breakthrough in the development of carbon-neutral fuel for the aviation industry. An aviation fuel production system that uses water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide has been put into action. Its design was published on July 20th, 2022, in the journal Joule. The dream of achieving carbon-free aviation could become a reality with this development.
“We are the first to demonstrate the entire thermochemical process chain from water and CO2 to kerosene in a fully-integrated solar tower system.” - Aldo Steinfeld, Professor, Study Corresponding Author, ETH Zurich
The aviation industry accounts for approximately 5% of the global anthropogenic emissions that contribute to global climate change. The industry heavily relies on kerosene, commonly known as jet fuel, a liquid hydrocarbon fuel derived from crude oil. There are no clean options to power commercial flights on a global scale at the moment.
Production of Synthetic Kerosene
This breakthrough, with the help of solar energy, makes it possible to produce synthetic kerosene from water and carbon dioxide instead of crude oil. The amount of CO2 emitted during kerosene combustion in a jet engine equals what is consumed during its production in the solar plant. It is what makes the fuel carbon neutral, especially if the CO2 in the air is captured and directly used as an ingredient, which could be possible in the near future.
As part of the European Union's SUN-to-LIQUID project, Steinfeld and his colleagues put forward a system that uses solar power to generate drop-in fuels—synthetic alternatives to fossil-derived fuels like kerosene and diesel. Solar-produced kerosene is consistent with the current aviation infrastructure for allocation, fuel storage, and use in jet engines. It can also combine with fossil-derived kerosene, according to Steinfeld.
High Hopes for the Future
Steinfeld and his team began scaling the construction of a solar fuel manufacturing plant at the IMDEA Energy Institute in Spain half a decade ago. The plant has 169 sun-tracking reflective panels that redirect and concentrate solar radiation into a tower-mounted solar reactor. This concentrated solar energy then powers redox reaction cycles in the reactor’s porous ceria structure, which is not absorbed but can be reused. It transforms the water and carbon dioxide into syngas, a customized mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. This syngas is then injected into a gas-to-liquid converter and is finally converted into liquid hydrocarbon fuels such as kerosene and diesel. Steinfeld and his team are working on amping up the reactor’s efficiency from the current 4% to more than 15%.