Aviation Unveils the Path to Zero-Carbon Emission for the Future

Anusree Bhattacharya | December 28, 2021 | 156 views

Can the aviation industry have a net zero-carbon emissions? Can technology assist in achieving net-zero emissions?

Presently, customers are taking more flights than ever as the industry is set to grow post-pandemic effects. Data from IATA shows that the UK aviation industry alone ejected thirty-seven million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere in 2020. That’s an average of 9% more in tonnes of emission the industry recorded in 2018.

The warnings are transparent. In the latest reports of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the effects of global warming are escalating.

“We know the challenges of climate change the world is facing. It has only continued to intensify,”

- Nicholas Calio, president and CEO of Airlines for America

Airlines are subsequently embracing their actions towards the recovery of their business. There is a need to take even braver, more momentous steps to address this challenge.

Airlines have been focused on carbon offset programs for years. It has previously invested in projects and organizations that assist in reducing the impact of CO2 emissions.

In March 2021, the U.S. airline industry announced that its market leaders are committed to achieving zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The aviation industry is currently rising at between 4% and 5% a year. And the number of passengers will double every 15-20 years. How will the industry let fly with zero emissions? Certain plans strongly focus on the increasing use of sustainable aviation fuel and jet fuel. These fuels are produced from sources such as plant oils, municipal waste, agricultural residue, fossil fuels, and other interim steps.

The blog accumulates some of the best ways that aviation has unveiled on the grounds of zero carbon emissions.


Escalating the Use of Alternative Fuel

The escalating use of alternative fuels is perhaps the most significant proposed carbon reduction initiative for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) usage. Sustainable fuel is going to be created from plant or animal material. One of the examples is waste oil.

It is studied that SAF has the potential to cut life-cycle emissions from aviation by 80%. It can be blended with conventional jet fuel without making major changes in aircraft designs. But, as technology is concerned with SAF usage, it can be eight times more expensive than conventional jet fuel. SAF currently values less than 0.1% of the almost 300 million tonnes of fuel that commercial airlines use every day.

some companies are taking regulatory incentives in joint efforts with aviation after looking at the costs and ensuring that more SAF is used in the future.  Let’s see which corporate companies are setting commendable aviation-related commitments.
  • Microsoft partnered with Alaska Airlines. Together, they are working to cover CO2 emissions to make their employees’ travel safe by introducing SAF credits.
  • FedEx has committed to purchase 13 million liters of sustainable aviation fuel from Red Rock Biofuel. It is a part of their long-term net-zero emission strategy.
  • Express GBT created an alliance to help in increasing supply SAF to under carbon reduction initiative and become zero carbon-emitting by 2050.


Industry-Wide Efforts

The path to climate recovery with zero airline emissions will require a collective effort from all industries. This also includes governments. They must take responsibility for the impact of certain activities, products, and policies have on the environment. The production of fossil fuels is one of them. So, the aviation industry must reduce its dependency on fossil fuels for air travel.

Industries such as energy, road transport, infrastructure, manufacturing, and finance are being collectively responsible for creating a risk-free airline emission. For example, policies of energy transition must include a change in the production plan. Road transport efforts should be advanced by designing electric vehicles. Manufacturers should bring in new technology to support the creation of lightweight engines and aircraft parts. All of them should join hands for a sustainable future for aviation.


The Role of Government Investments

Government bodies play a crucial role in heading up carbon reduction initiatives. The initiative will have solutions such as new aircraft technology and more efficient infrastructure and operations. It also includes the development of zero-carbon energy sources like hydrogen and electric power generation.

According to IATA, 1.8 gigatons of carbon will be required to sustain the aviation industry in 2050. The prediction can achieve 65% of carbon for sustainable aviation fuels.

What are other solutions in demand to commit to addressing a zero-emission environment? It includes:
  • Fuel-producing companies are to bring large-scale, cost-competitive sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) to the market.
  • Governments and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) eliminate inadequacies in air traffic management and airspace infrastructure.
  • Aircraft and engine manufacturers produce more efficient aircraft engines and propulsion technologies.
  • Airport operators provide the required infrastructure to supply cost-effective SAF.


Airline Firms Decarbonizing Aviation

Presently, aviation is driving towards a new chapter of growth. And the pillars of growth are the firms that are continuously making efforts to make aviation a risk-free industry.

Let’s see how aviation firms are contributing to making a zero-carbon emission sky for safe air travel for the future.

Delta Airlines

Delta and Aviation Climate Taskforce are initiating technological innovation and accelerating the research and development of emerging technologies. Emerging technologies refer to reducing CO2 footprint production. They are focusing on their approach towards medium-term solutions, near-term solutions and long terms solutions.

The mid-term solutions include synthetic fuel. The near-term solutions focus on emerging bio-based Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) pathways.  And long-term solutions include hydrogen technologies. ACT will aim to support the advancement of these technologies through two crucial pillars:
  • An Innovation Network
  • A Collaboration Forum


JetBlue

JetBlue went carbon neutral for all its flights. It went through carbon offset programs in partnership with the CarbonFund.org Foundation. The investment included solar, wind, and hydrogen-energy project initiatives.

Apart from this, JetBlue also invested in hundreds of global carbon offset programs to support renewable energy efforts.

“views carbon initiative as a platform for other industry-wide environmental improvements that support lower emissions.”

- JetBlue

The best part is that JetBlue also invested in sustainable aviation fuel on flights. They are currently operating from San Francisco International Airport.


American Airlines

American Airlines changed its strategy of using traditional jet fuel. The airline has committed to purchase 9 million gallons of SAF to lower CO2 emissions in the next three years.


Southwest Airlines

On Earth Day 2021, Southwest Airlines announced it would continue to support the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). NREL works to develop cost-effective low-carbon aviation fuels that are generated from waste.

The airline SAF will play a vital role in getting the atmosphere carbon neutral and will be able to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. On this, NREL estimates that wet waste typically produces enough energy to provide about 20% of jet fuel consumption.


How Will the Industry Embrace Greener Air Travel Once It Returns to the Sky?

There is a buzz that travelers are now becoming more conscious of the environment. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish climate change activist after the pandemic, a growing wave of eco-conscious travelers are choosing to fly with more environmentally friendly airlines. They are also opting for other means of transportation.

As the aviation industry accounts for 2.5 percent of global carbon emissions, travelers now want to be associated with greater environmental awareness. They are taking some essential steps such as:
  • Asking whether a flight is necessary for travel
  • Booking a flight that travels nonstop
  • Keeping a check on airlines that promote carbon reduction goals

On the other hand, airline companies today are opting to monitor themselves. They are doing it within the parameters of emissions, manufacturing, and embracing technological aspects.

Frequently Asked Questions


How can air travel become more environmentally friendly?

You can follow some travel tips such as:
  1. Opt for a direct destination flight
  2. Find alternatives to travel other than flight (if not necessary)
  3. Carry lesser or lighter luggage
  4. Try to produce lesser waste
  5. Choose a sustainable flight


How are airline firms reducing emissions from their flights?

Airline firms are continuously working towards reducing emissions in several ways. They are:
  1. By retiring old aircraft
  2. By updating air traffic routes to reduce fuel consumption
  3. By investing in newer technologies in the manufacturing process and other fields
  4. By participating in electricity generation and other sources of fuel generation


Which are the most eco-friendly airlines?

The most eco-friendly airlines are:
  1. Air France
  2. United Airlines
  3. JetBlue
  4. Delta Airlines
  5. Virgin Airlines
  6.  Alaska Airlines

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Hi-Tec Systems, Inc. is an award-winning SBA-certified Small Business enhancing the safety and security of air travel since 1995. As a government contractor, Hi-Tec has a record of successful performance on numerous large, complex programs and contracts with the Federal Aviation Administration, Army, Navy, Department of Transportation, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense.

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ZeroAvia Signs Agreement with Textron Aviation to Develop Hydrogen-Electric Powertrain for the Cessna Grand Caravan

ZeroAvia | September 30, 2022

ZeroAvia, the leader in zero-emission aviation, today announced it has entered into a non-exclusive Joint Development Agreement with Textron Aviation Inc., a Textron Inc. ( NYSE: TXT) company, supporting ZeroAvia's development of hydrogen-electric, zero-emission powertrains for the Cessna Grand Caravan (208B) aircraft. ZeroAvia will obtain a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) to retrofit the Grand Caravan single-engine utility turboprop with the ZA600 zero-emission powertrain, targeting commercial passenger and cargo operators. The Cessna Grand Caravan is designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation. Its high-wing design makes it a strong candidate for mounting hydrogen fuel tanks under the wings, ensuring operators can maintain seat capacity or cargo space, while transitioning to true zero emission propulsion systems. ZeroAvia will develop its ZA600 powertrain system for the Grand Caravan with data, engineering and certification support provided by Textron Aviation. ZeroAvia aims to obtain certification for the 600kW powertrain as early as 2025, enabling customers to operate zero-emission flights.The Cessna Grand Caravan platform has seen more than 2,400 aircraft delivered worldwide since the aircraft was introduced, representing enormous potential for a shift to clean propulsion. ZeroAvia has already announced several agreements with operators and lessors in relation to conversions of the Grand Caravan. "The famous Cessna Grand Caravan is on track to be one of the first airframes operating commercial services both cargo and passenger with hydrogen-electric, zero-emission engines. We applaud the visionary leadership of Textron Aviation in joining us to help transform a much-loved mainstay of sub-regional aviation into a symbol of sustainable transformation in aviation." Val Miftakhov, CEO, ZeroAvia This agreement with Textron Aviation adds to significant prior commitments from other aircraft original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and operators to ZeroAvia's powertrain technology over the course of the last few months. ZeroAvia is already well advanced in retrofitting its system into a 19-seat Dornier 228 aircraft at its R&D location at Cotswold Airport in the UK, with first test flights anticipated over the next few weeks. The company is actively developing the market for its ZA600 product with different 9-19 seat airframes, while concurrently developing its ZA2000, 2-5MW engine class for 40-80 seat aircraft with an entry-into-service target of 2027. ZeroAvia is focused on developing hydrogen-electric propulsion as a practical, holistic and economically attractive solution to aviation's growing climate change impact. The company's hydrogen-electric powertrains use fuel cells to generate electricity, which powers electric motors to then turn propellers. Hydrogen-electric systems produce only water vapor and at temperatures that enable the management of contrail impact. ZeroAvia's work in developing its 600kW system through to a certifiable design is part of the HyFlyer II project, supported by the UK Government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and Innovate UK through the ATI Programme. About ZeroAvia ZeroAvia is a leader in zero-emission aviation, focused on hydrogen-electric aviation solutions to address a variety of markets, initially targeting a 300-mile range in 9–19 seat aircraft by 2025, and up to 700-mile range in 40–80 seat aircraft by 2027. Based in the UK and USA, ZeroAvia has already secured experimental certificates for its two-prototype aircraft from the CAA and FAA, passed significant flight test milestones, secured a number of key partnerships with major aircraft OEMs and major global airlines, and is on track for commercial operations in 2024. The company's expanding UK operations are supported by grants from UK's Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, and ZeroAvia is part of the UK Government's Jet Zero Council.

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Boom Supersonic Announces Tooling and Automation Supplier for Overture Superfactory

Boom Supersonic | September 29, 2022

Boom Supersonic, the company building the world's fastest airliner, optimized for speed, safety, and sustainability, today announced that it has selected Advanced Integration Technology (AIT) as the tooling and automation provider and integrator for the Overture final assembly line. This strategic partnership is an important prerequisite for aircraft production at the Overture Superfactory in Greensboro, North Carolina. Site preparation at the Superfactory is already underway, and groundbreaking is on track for December 2022.Boom's purchase agreement with AIT spans the design, fabrication, and installation of custom tooling for the Overture Superfactory. AIT will provide an end-to-end system for the Superfactory, creating transportation and positioning tools for fuselage assembly, wing assembly, wing-to-fuselage joining, and final assembly. Major hardware provided by AIT will include automated drilling machinery, mobile transport equipment, and setups for positioning and joining setups. Boom is prioritizing design and procurement of long-lead-time sections of the tooling suite, helping to ensure that the Overture program remains on track to enter production in 2024. "Advanced Integration Technology is a recognized leader in aircraft assembly tooling, and we are excited to be working with them to prepare the Superfactory for Overture production,This order will help ensure that the Superfactory is ready for Overture's manufacturing launch in 2024." Chris Taylor, Vice President of Manufacturing at Boom Overture will carry passengers at twice the speed of today's fastest passenger jets. As the company announced in January, 2022, Boom will hire more than 2,400 workers at the Superfactory over the next ten years, and recruiting is already underway. Boom also pledged to create over 200 internships for students in North Carolina universities, community colleges, and trade schools, and the first class of these interns is expected in 2023. We are honored that Boom has selected Advanced Integration Technology to design, produce and integrate Overture's Superfactory final assembly line. AIT is proud to use our industry leading expertise in aerospace production system integration to support Boom's vision of supersonic travel, said Michael Wellham, AIT President and Chief Operating Officer. Last week, Boom announced an offtake agreement with AIR COMPANY to purchase up to 5 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) per year through the duration of Overture flight testing in Greensboro, North Carolina. Boom also recently announced three tier-one suppliers that will contribute to key systems on Overture including Collins Aerospace, Safran Landing Systems, and Eaton. Boom is in advanced supplier conversations for several other major components of the aircraft, and also plans to announce its engine partner later this year. In August, American Airlines placed deposits on 20 Overture aircraft and pre-ordered an additional 40, bringing Overture's order book to $26 billion including orders and options. About Boom Supersonic Boom Supersonic is transforming air travel with Overture, the world's fastest airliner, optimized for speed, safety, and sustainability. Serving both civil and government markets, Overture will fly at twice the speed of today's airliners and is designed to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Overture's order book, including purchases and options from American Airlines, United Airlines, and Japan Airlines stands at 130 aircraft. Boom is working with Northrop Grumman for government and defense applications of Overture. Suppliers and partners collaborating with Boom on the Overture program include Collins Aerospace, Eaton, Safran Landing Systems, the United States Air Force, American Express, AIR COMPANY, Climeworks, and AWS.

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