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%.
Article | December 3, 2021
NASA is known for developing and launching spacecraft that have a significant environmental impact. However, the space agency is fully on board with the net-zero movement. NASA supports the White House's Aviation Climate Action Plan. It is helping fund several aviation projects that aim to reduce the aviation industry’s damage to the environment.
NASA’s Sustainable Flight Demonstrator Program
NASA focuses on technologies for single-aisle aircraft, which are the powerhouses of many airline fleets and account for nearly half of global aviation emissions. NASA's Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) project aims to reduce carbon emissions and keep the US competitive in the design of single-aisle commercial airliners, which are in high demand.
"Since its creation, NASA has worked with industry to develop and implement innovative aeronautics technology and has shared it with the world," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. "Now, with this ambitious new project, we're again joining with US industry to usher in a new era of cutting-edge improvements that will make the global aviation industry cleaner, quieter, and more sustainable."
NASA Wants to Reduce the Environmental Impact of Commercial Aircraft
The program’s goal is to build, test, and fly a large-scale demonstrator. NASA hopes to find a business partner for a Funded Space Act Agreement with its Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, by the beginning of 2023.
The agreement would draw on private-industry knowledge and experience, with an awardee developing a suggested technical plan and committing considerable cash to the project. Under this agreement, NASA would not purchase an aircraft or any other hardware for its missions. The mission of NASA is to develop new and innovative technologies and capabilities.
NASA will collect data on the ground and in the air. Agency and industry teams can use it to test the airframe configuration and related technologies.
Moving Away From Space
NASA's technologies are typically cutting-edge. However, as with many high-end items, the benefits and applications frequently filter down to the masses. NASA's specialized technology and research frequently has civil aviation applications. It's interesting to see how NASA seems to be moving away from space and going after planes that fly closer to Earth.
Article | September 3, 2021
Flying is changing, and so is the future of piloting. With technological advancements across the aviation industry, one can only anticipate what’s in store for the future of piloting. The battle between automation and learning skills that automation can easily take over is coming to a head. As airplane engineering matures, the aviation industry isn’t far from seeing a day when pilots who have undergone training on electric trainers require a license endorsement to fly a piston-powered aircraft.
Goodbye, Manual Flying
Airplanes are becoming downright easier to fly. Consider how most pilots today would never be able to fly the aircraft that their seniors trained in. According to experts, piloting skills will put more emphasis on the efficient use of airspace systems instead of directing and maneuvering the aircraft.
Decoding Airplane Information
Traditionally, a pilot’s primary task was to gather and decode the information he received through the aircraft’s systems. This information was then used to give the pilot an “air picture” which allowed him to get a sense of the air traffic, airspace, and weather. As aircraft technology improves, pilots will no longer need to know how to do this. Instead, the "air picture" will be shown on a screen in front of them.
From augmented reality to 3D spatial audio cues, augmentation is happening to aircraft as well as the pilot’s ability to fly them. The evolution of aviation technology will only help transform the mechanics of airplanes, and pilots will no longer need to handle flight control. As augmented reality takes over, future cockpits might not even need to be at the front of the aircraft or have windows. That would be the true test of the future of piloting.
DEFENSE AND SPACE
Article | June 8, 2022
Whether you’re a small, newer airline looking to make a splash in the online world or a niche brand wanting to expand your customer base, you’ll need the right aviation marketing strategies in your arsenal. Similar to any other industry in today’s market, digital strategies are non-negotiable for brands in the aviation space who are hoping to connect with customers online and restore customer confidence in the aftermath of COVID-19.
And if you’re looking to take your brand to the digital skies, you need impactful strategies that help you offer a seamless customer experience. Let’s look at five strategies you can use for your aviation marketing strategy.
Aviation Marketing through Social Media
Visibility is a hugely important goal to achieve for any business. After all, how can you hope to attract new customers if no one knows about you? This is especially true and important for smaller airlines or those not operating in the commercial space. For example, when the average customer thinks about traveling by plane, they probably aren’t considering private airlines.
But if customers see content online about airlines, perhaps even highlighting that some private airlines fall in their price range, things can change. Once customers are aware of your company, you’re one step closer to securing a sale. The key is getting in the picture in the first place—something social media can do.
In addition to visibility, use social media to keep your customers informed. Despite us seemingly living in a post-COVID world, uncertainty is still a big factor that customers and airlines alike have to consider. Positive coronavirus results or transmission outbreaks can throw a wrench in travel plans right up until check-in, but social media offers a way to keep customers informed with live information and updates.
Airlines can use social media platforms like Twitter to post live updates on flights, including regular information on delays, but also more unexpected and yet super useful updates on things such as weather conditions at their destination.
And if you’re looking for international aviation marketing strategies as a multinational company, social media is a great way to connect with customers across territories too, thanks to its global reach.
Digital Customer Service Strategies
We saw during COVID-19 how important it was to provide quick, accurate information to customers, with things like up-to-date websites, live social updates, and automated texts for flight changes. These strategies all helped to streamline customer service offerings, as well as free up helplines and customer service booths at airports, and they have helped establish a new benchmark when it comes to customer service.
Having a solid customer service strategy in place is more important than ever—specifically, having one that’s responsive, flexible, and digital. This means offering smart chatbots that can assist with frequently asked questions, detailed guidance online addressing common challenges that customers face, and over-the-phone support in multiple languages that can enhance an international aviation marketing strategy.
Customer service might not seem like it matches with airline marketing, but going above and beyond for your customers is essential in creating the right reputation for your brand. Establishing your company as a gold-star service provider will not just give you something to shout about online, but it will also keep customers loyal and engaged with you too.
We all know that the future is mobile—and it’s no different for aviation companies, who have that same pressure to keep up with technological advancements if they want to provide the best service possible for their customers.
Smartphones are an integral part of all of our lives, and they’re now just as important as ever, as people are taking their digital identification with them on their travels. Aviation companies must recognize the company they keep in the travel space, where mobile apps support customers on their journeys and trips—from navigation to weather and accommodation to ridesharing. Without an interactive app or fully mobile-friendly site, an airline’s strategy for marketing won’t be as impactful.
Customers used to have to carry printed versions of their flight documents in order to board, including boarding passes and booking confirmations, but things aren’t so paper-based anymore. Digital wallets that keep boarding passes safe and apps that store customers’ flight information are the norm now.
Mobile apps are also fantastic for driving loyalty programs. With an interactive app where customers can collect and cash in loyalty points, you not only provide an easy way for customers to enjoy their rewards, but also make flying more accessible and cost-effective.
In a post-COVID market, there is even more of an emphasis on contactless travel—another area where mobile solutions can play a key role. Phones allow consumers to have all their information handy, and other contactless technology helps facilitate airport management.
Content that Creates Real Connections
Digital content has the potential to reach a wider audience and, more importantly, turn readers into customers, so it should be included in any airline marketing strategy. Showing customers exactly what your company can do for them, and how you do it, is crucial for establishing strong branding and customer relationships. It’s how airlines can differentiate themselves from their competitors and add value to their services.
Meaningful content that your audience will trust includes user-generated content that offers real insights into what it’s like to be a customer of your company, such as honest reviews and feedback from real customers. You can deliver this content in a variety of ways—e.g., blogs, videos, social media, PR—but however you choose to do so, be sure to keep the story at the forefront of your narrative to create those all-important connections with customers.
Omnichannel Digital Experiences
Alongside social media, there are a slew of other digital channels that should be considered in your digital strategy. This is hugely important because of the myriad ways that consumers interact with the online world nowadays. If it’s not live Twitter updates, it’s check-in reminder emails. The point is that brands need to be present across different platforms and digital mediums in order to provide a competitive and effective experience for their customers.
For airlines, it’s about making sure that no matter what device a customer is using, their journey is cohesive and streamlined. They should be able to switch seamlessly between your website on their laptop and emails on a tablet, with the right information easy and quick to find in a consistently branded way.
It’s also worth considering that people tend to carry multiple devices with them while traveling, making it even more important for airlines and airports alike to offer omnichannel digital content to their customers.
Whatever part of your aviation branding or marketing you need support with, the team at TPT Digital can take your brand to new heights. The 2022 Aviation Festival is a great opportunity for learning, connection, and collaboration—come and say hello to us there!
Also, get in touch if you’d like to discuss how TPT Digital can support your paid social media content. We’re happy to give you a free quote.