Flights in all world regions at greater risk of severe turbulence incidents as a result of climate change

Tue 10 Oct 2017 – In May, 27 passengers on board an Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Bangkok were injured when the Boeing 777 encountered clear-air turbulence. Because the plane was unable to detect the turbulence ahead, passengers had not been warned to fasten their seat belts. There is evidence that clear-air turbulence (CAT) has already risen by 40-90% over Europe and North America since 1958 and studies by researchers from the universities of Reading and East Anglia in the UK have shown that as a consequence of climate change, the frequency of turbulence on flights between Europe and North America could double by 2050 and the intensity increase by 10-40%. The same researchers have since extended their previous work by analysing eight geographic regions, two flight levels, five turbulence strength categories and four seasons, and found large increases in CAT.

“While turbulence does not usually pose a major danger to flights, it is responsible for hundreds of passenger injuries every year,” said Luke Storer, a researcher at the University of Reading and co-author of the new study. “It is also by far the most common cause of serious injuries to flight attendants. Turbulence is thought to cost US air carriers up to $200 million annually.”

Previous research focused on turbulence over the North Atlantic region – one of the busiest air routes in the world – and suggested climate change will increase high-altitude wind instabilities in the jet stream in winter, generating stronger and more frequent pockets of CAT. Using supercomputer simulations of the future atmosphere, the new study analysed changes to CAT over the entire globe by the second half of the century.

The researchers found strong increases in CAT in all regions, in particular the mid-latitudes in both hemispheres where the busiest flights are in operation, and some regions may experience several hundred per cent more turbulence. They also found that of the five turbulence strength categories, the strongest turbulence will increase the most.

Flights to the most popular international destinations are projected to experience the largest increases, with severe turbulence at a typical cruising altitude of 39,000 feet becoming up to two or three times as common throughout the year over the North Atlantic (180% more common), Europe (160% more common), North America (110% more common), the North Pacific (90% more common) and Asia (60% more common).

The study also makes the first ever turbulence projections for the Southern Hemisphere, finding the amount of airspace containing severe turbulence is calculated to increase over South America by 60% and over Australia and Africa by 50%.

“Air turbulence is increasing across the globe, in all seasons, and at multiple cruising altitudes. This problem is only going to worsen as the climate continues to change,” said Paul Williams, Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading and lead author of the study.

He said the results highlighted an increasing need to improve operational CAT forecasts and to use them effectively in flight planning. “Despite containing useful information and demonstrably improving the safety and comfort of air travel, these forecasts continue to include a substantial fraction of false positives and missed events,” he added.

The study points out that future aeronautical advances, such as remote sensing of CAT using onboard light detection and ranging (lidar) technology, might be able to mitigate the operational effects of the worsening atmospheric turbulence. For example, Boeing is collaborating with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to develop a system that will detect CAT more than 60 seconds, or about 17.5km, ahead of the aircraft (see Wired article). Even if it does not give pilots enough time to divert round the threat, it would alert crew and minimise the risk of injuries.

“Our findings may have implications for aviation operations in the coming decades,” say the researchers. “Many of the aircraft that will be flying in the second half of the present century are currently in the design phase. It would therefore seem sensible for the aircraft manufacturers to prepare for a more turbulent atmosphere, even at this early stage.”

The study, ‘Global response of clear-air turbulence to climate change’, is published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.


Copyright © 2017 GreenAir Communications

Zunum Aero reveals details of its 12-seat hybrid-electric passenger aircraft that it hopes to be operational by 2022

Fri 13 Oct 2017 – US-based Zunum Aero has revealed more details of its hybrid-electric 12-seat regional aircraft that it claims will be operational by 2022. In April, Zunum announced it had received backing from Boeing HorizonX and JetBlue Technology Ventures (see article). The aircraft is being designed to have a maximum cruise speed of 340 miles an hour and a take-off distance of 2,200 feet (670m), and the company believes it can open up fast and affordable travel for thousands of communities across the United States. It is expected to have up to 80 per cent lower emissions compared to comparable jet aircraft, and over time Zunum’s quest is to eliminate emissions with an all-electric version. UK low-cost carrier easyJet recently unveiled its support for an electric regional aircraft in development by US start-up, Wright Electric (see article).

The US has many thousands of small airports yet Zunum says around 96% of air traffic travels through 1% of its airports, leaving a large untapped market on short routes where it is unprofitable for private jets and commercial airlines to operate. The company believes that with advances in battery technology, lightweight electric motors and carbon composite airframes, direct costs could work out at eight US cents per seat-mile, or $250 per hour – about one-fifth that of a small jet or turboprop plane. Many smaller airports also have environmental constraints that Zunum says its aircraft can overcome.

The aircraft would be powered by two electric motors and a supplemental jet-fuel engine to ensure the plane has a range of up to 700 miles – about two hours of flight – and so well beyond current battery technology capability. The motor being designed by Zunum will drive a fan similar to the bypass fan on a conventional jet engine but without combustion. These quiet electric propulsors with their variable pitch fans would enable a 40% reduction in runway needs and a 75% drop in community noise. Wing-integrated batteries would enable tailoring of onboard battery capacity and quick-swap or recharge at airports.

The company says it is discussing with aircraft manufacturers about building the airframe. It is planning to open a second development in the Chicago area and start ground tests ahead of first flights planned for 2019.

With projected advances in battery technology Zunum is setting its sights on a larger 50-seater plane with a range of 1,000 miles by the end of the next decade.

“Regional travel is ripe for reinvention,” says JetBlue Technology Ventures, which backs travel and technology early start-ups. “Options for journeys up to a thousand miles are far from ideal, limited to slow travel on the ground and air service consolidating to large hubs. As a result, door-to-door times have not improved for decades, and the only alternative, high-speed rail, is limited by heavy capital needs for a few dense corridors. Zunum Aero aims to change that.”


Copyright © 2017 GreenAir Communications

States agree not to set targets as ICAO unveils its long-term vision on sustainable aviation fuels deployment

Mon 16 Oct 2017 – ICAO concluded its second Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/2) held in Mexico City with an agreement on a long-term vision for the development, production and supply of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) through to 2050. Delegates from Member States, industry and environmental groups had initially been asked to support ICAO’s Vision 2050 proposals for short, mid and long term goals that would ensure a 2% share of SAF in international aviation fuel demand by 2025, rising to 32% in 2040 and 50% by 2050. However, a number of States, along with industry and NGOs, failed to back the setting of targets and the conference settled instead for wording that calls for a “significant percentage” of SAF by 2050. The aviation industry said it welcomed the emphasis on developing robust sustainability criteria as a central component of alternative aviation fuels deployment.

Opening the conference, ICAO Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu said current progress on reducing aviation emissions through technological innovation and streamlined operations was not sufficient to meet ICAO 2020 targets.

“Even after these have been accounted for, we are still left with a significant mitigation requirement,” he said. “Sustainable alternative fuels are critical to closing this gap.”

He noted that more than 40,000 flights had been conducted using sustainable fuels since they were first introduced and a number of airports were now offering such fuels to airlines interested in purchasing them.

“Through these numerous actions, the aviation sector has now supplied the proof of concept for sustainable aviation fuels, confirming their operational viability and the feasibility of producing them in sustainable ways which lessen the impact of aviation on the climate,” he told delegates.

The proposed ICAO Vision 2050 targets represented 5 million tonnes (Mt) per year of SAF being used by airlines in 2025, 128 Mt per year at the mid-term 2040 waypoint and 285 Mt/year by 2050.

ICAO figures show that international aviation consumed around 142 Mt of conventional jet fuel in 2010. By 2050 the UN agency estimates fuel consumption will reach 860 Mt if considering only rising demand for air travel and natural fleet renewal. If the potential contribution of advancing technology together with air traffic management and infrastructure use improvements are taken into account, the estimated fuel consumption could decrease to 570 Mt in 2050, representing a 71% share of the expected global – international plus domestic – aviation annual fuel burn. The ICAO Vision therefore only considers SAF usage on international flight routes.

Given accepted significant uncertainties in predicting the long-term contribution of SAF, ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) evaluated 120 SAF deployment scenarios for 2050, taking into consideration the global availability of resources, economic conditions, financial investments and policy decisions required to reach the assessed levels of global SAF production. The associated CO2 emissions reductions were calculated for each scenario.

The short-term goal of 5 Mt per year of SAF by 2025 is considered by the ICAO Secretariat as a “reasonable assumption”, based on current off-take agreements reached by airlines with biofuel producers of around 0.9 Mt per year. It sees recent policy decisions in countries like Norway, India, France and the UK to end the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by or before 2040 as driving large quantities of ‘green diesel’ – a current global capacity of 3.45 Mt/year – from road transport towards the aviation sector.

The Secretariat also believes international agreement on the SAF sustainability criteria under the ICAO CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme will address some of the uncertainties faced by industry and foster confidence in SAF investment.

CAEP narrowed down its 2050 forecast to four scenarios: low (4% SAF share of jet fuel consumption), illustrative (28%), intermediate (50%) and maximum (100%). Although 100% was possible, it says in a paper (WP/6) presented to CAAF/2, this would require 170 new biorefineries to be built annually from 2020 to 2050, at an approximate cost of $15-60 billion per year if growth occurred linearly. If investment and growth began slowly and ramped up over time, it estimates over 500 new biorefineries would have to be constructed every year in the late 2040s and almost 1,000 new biorefineries would be required in 2050, requiring capital investments of $1-3 billion per year in 2025 and $80-340 billion per year in 2050.

Achieving a 100% SAF consumption by 2050 could reduce net CO2 emissions by about 63%, determined CAEP. However, this would require the realisation of the highest assumed increases in agricultural productivity, highest availability of land for feedstock cultivation, highest residue removal rates, highest conversion efficiency improvements, largest reductions in the GHG emissions of utilities, as well as a strong market or policy emphasis on bioenergy in general and SAFs in particular.

“This implies that a large share of the globally available bioenergy resource would be devoted to producing aviation fuel, as opposed to other uses,” says the ICAO Secretariat.

The intermediate 2050 scenario with 50% substitution by SAF – the scenario proposed by the Secretariat – assumes improvements in fuel production efficiencies and high availability of bioenergy feedstocks, the production of which would need to be significantly incentivised by favourable markets or policy mechanisms.

The three targets, however, met with resistance from a number of States attending CAAF/2, with some calling into question whether biofuels provided a solution to the carbon neutrality of the aviation sector. In a paper to the conference (WP/20), the Russian Federation said the lack of land resources required in order to meet the world’s energy needs using biofuels was “a major concern”, adding: “Thus, since forested areas need to be cleared, vast amounts of carbon will be released, creating a carbon debt requiring centuries to repay.” The paper argued biofuel production posed a serious global risk to food and water resources.

In its paper (WP/26), China said it had proactively pursued the adoption and deployment of SAF since the first CAAF in 2009 and welcomed initiatives to maximise the contribution of such fuels to the environmentally sustainable future of international aviation. However, it had “serious concerns” with the goals set out by the Secretariat that had been “developed without full political and technical consultations among States”. It also said the uncertainty over the contribution of SAF to emissions reduction from international aviation made the ICAO carbon-neutral growth target (CNG2020) “impracticable”.

Supporters of the deployment goals put forward by the Secretariat, Brazil and Indonesia said in a joint paper (WP/18) that to ensure the long-term take-up of SAF, a mechanism should be developed and incorporated into the CORSIA review process that guaranteed a smooth transition from the use of market-based measures to the use of SAF. This, they suggested, could be achieved by establishing a ceiling that would be lowered year by year on the total amount of the growth in emissions post-2021 that could be neutralised through offsetting. The two countries expressed their concern that under present conditions, policies and mechanisms, it will be cheaper for aircraft operators to offset their emissions by purchasing emissions units than by covering the price gap between fossil fuels and SAF.

The United States’ view is that the role of ICAO in the global deployment of SAF should be as a facilitator rather than coming up with policies that direct State action. What might be a successful policy in one State may not be applicable to another and development and deployment will vary among States and regions, it argued in WP/16. “Thus, while we agree with a defined goal, we would not support specifying the means to achieve that goal,” it said.

It was important that States learn from one another, it added, and ICAO was ideally situated to facilitate information sharing and coordination.

ICAO’s facilitating role was supported in a joint paper submitted on behalf of industry (WP/25), which also encouraged States to put in place policy frameworks that strongly incentivised SAF development, production in use. While supporting the Secretariat’s aspirational 2025 goal of 5 Mt per year of SAF, the paper said there should be a focus on identifying pathways to achieve it, which should articulate the requisite policy drivers. However, industry believes there is too much uncertainty at present, particularly concerning the costs of SAF, to define a long-term goal.

“For that reason, we believe it would only be appropriate to consider defining a mid-term SAF aspirational goal, including identification of pathways for striving towards the goal, once progress and achievement of an aspirational 2025 goal can be assessed,” said the paper.

In its submission (WP/21) to CAAF/2, the International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (ICSA), which represents environmental groups at ICAO, urged States to avoid endorsing volumetric targets for SAF. “In effect, the targets maximise the volume of SAF utilised rather than the amount of carbon abated,” it said. “This could result in substantial policy support going towards fuels that either increase aviation sector emissions or, at best, provide marginal benefits.”

It added that the CAEP scenarios relied heavily on optimistic assumptions on land availability for feedstock cultivation and did not take into account indirect land use change and other sustainability considerations.

The three-day conference, which included representatives from 29 Member States, concluded with an agreement on the 2050 Vision that replaced the initial reference to the aspirational goals with text that States “will seek to ensure that a significant percentage of current conventional aviation fuels would be substituted with sustainable alternatives by 2050.”

ICSA commended the States for rejecting the targets. “The version of the Vision that countries accepted is more reasonable and better reflects the risks of forging headlong into alternative fuels without putting climate change and sustainability concerns first,” said Brad Schallert, Deputy Director at World Wildlife Fund in an ICSA statement.

“Producing alternative fuels at scale globally is inherently risky and should be approached with caution. In ICSA’s view, the Vision should primarily inspire innovation and technological breakthroughs at a level required to meet the challenge of mitigating international aviation’s climate impact.”

Although supportive of a short-term aspirational goal, industry too was pleased that the targets were dropped and greater emphasis had been placed in the Vision on sustainability criteria, which industry representative Michael Gill of the Air Transport Action Group told the conference “should be at the heart of any vision on sustainable aviation fuels.”

He added in a statement after the conference: “Most importantly, delegates confirmed that any alternative fuel deployment should follow sustainability criteria currently being developed by a task force at ICAO, including representatives of environmental groups. Aviation industry representatives strongly supported this, as sustainability should be a central component of any deployment of these new fuels.

“The ICAO Vision represents a commitment from stakeholders meeting at ICAO to follow a path towards increasing deployment of sustainable aviation fuel, one of the key components of our industry’s climate action plan. Periodic reviews of the Vision should look to ramp-up ambition, including at the next conference before 2025. We can then look at the longer-term prospects with the hope that sustainable aviation fuel will make up a significant proportion of our fuel mix in 2050, bringing down emissions and diversifying our energy supply.

“We now urge governments all over the world to join with industry to promote and develop this new source of energy that can bring up to an 80% reduction in CO2 compared with traditional jet fuel. The Vision will need to be developed further over time, but it also sets industry and governments a challenge we will meet together.”

ICAO stressed the Vision was “a living instrument”, with progress towards achieving it regularly assessed through a stocktaking process.

“The new ICAO Vision agreed at the Mexico event will now help guide international civil aviation stakeholders as they work to employ sustainable fuel alternatives and significantly reduce aviation emissions,” said the UN agency in a statement.

Links:

2nd ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels – Documentation and working papers

ICAO and Aviation Alternative Fuels


Update Oct 24:

ICAO has now released its CAAF/2 Declaration that defines the ICAO Vision on Aviation and Alternative Fuels and Future Objectives. It can be downloaded here

Copyright © 2017 GreenAir Communications

Environmental groups criticise ICAO over lack of CORSIA transparency and threat to biofuel sustainability criteria

Fri 18 Nov 2017 – ICAO has come under fire from two environmental groups over a perceived lack of transparency on decisions concerning its CORSIA global carbon offsetting scheme and fears that sustainability criteria for the use of biofuels qualifying under the scheme are being heavily watered down. ICAO’s governing Council has been meeting in Montreal to discuss detailed regulations on the operation of the scheme that have been drawn up by its technical committee CAEP. However, CAEP confidentiality rules and the closed-door Council sessions are allowing ICAO to develop climate policy in isolation and this risks undermining the Paris Agreement, argues Carbon Market Watch. Meanwhile, Transport & Environment says it understands political interventions in the Council could lead to the removal of 10 out of the 12 sustainability criteria for biofuels recommended by CAEP. The CORSIA Package, as it is known, is due to be sent shortly to all ICAO states for scrutiny and approval.

CORSIA, says Carbon Market Watch (CMW) in a new analysis report, is currently the only significant carbon offsetting scheme in the post-Kyoto period when the Paris Agreement comes into force, and the reliance on purchasing carbon credits from reductions in other sectors poses significant challenges to ensure the integrity of the scheme. Transparency on how the CORSIA rules will be designed as well as opportunities to engage in this process by all affected stakeholders are paramount for the scheme’s effectiveness, it argues.

However, it accuses ICAO of developing the rules “locked away from the public domain … and shielded from public scrutiny.”

CORSIA will have a direct impact on countries’ compliance with the Paris climate targets and at a time when wider UNFCCC climate talks are taking place at COP23 in Bonn to discuss emission reduction transfers between countries, it is unclear how carbon credits purchased by airlines are booked to avoid double counting of reductions towards ICAO and the Paris goals, says CMW.

“Aviation’s measure risks blowing a giant hole in the Paris Agreement,” said CMW Aviation Policy Officer, Kelsey Perlman. “The irony is that delegates in Bonn and Montreal are currently negotiating interlinked climate issues, with one held in public and the other behind closed doors.

“ICAO needs to allow for more public scrutiny, but the truth is we can’t afford to keep waiting to see how this measure affects global climate ambition.”

CMW points to parliamentarians in Europe asking their governments for more information on CORSIA. During a recent debate in the European Parliament, a Commission official with knowledge of the contents of the CORSIA Package was unable to reveal details to members of the Parliament because of ICAO non-disclosure rules.

“The European countries that have defended transparency this week in Bonn while sitting in the dark in ICAO, need to open up the debate,” said Perlman.

How ICAO interprets transparency and public participation requirements is covered in a new paper by the Columbia Law School, which finds the ICAO governance process falls short of the public information requirements of the Aarhus Convention. The international treaty grants the public rights of access to information, participating in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters, according to the report. Of the 45 countries that are members or observers of the ICAO Council and CAEP, 13 have signed up to the treaty.

“The ICAO rules of procedure allow for access to information and public meetings but inexplicably these rules have not been followed in the decision-making process around the sector’s offsetting scheme,” said Aoife O’Leary, author of the study. “And this despite the obligations the Convention places on many of the ICAO member and observer countries.”

The CORSIA Package – comprising draft regulatory Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and guidance material – is due to be sent to all ICAO States next month, who will only be given up to four months to scrutinise and respond before adoption by the Council in June next year.

In its annual submission to the UNFCCC subsidiary body SBSTA, which met during COP23, ICAO said having rules in place covering monitoring, reporting and verification of the sector’s carbon emissions was the immediate priority so that States and airlines can be ready to report emissions from 2019. “After that, ICAO will determine eligible emissions units which airlines purchase in order to meet offsetting requirements under CORSIA,” it added.

In another submission to SBSTA, Chile – with the support of Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru – said given its projected growth, the aviation sector would be required to compensate 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions during the period of CORSIA’s existence (2021-2035).

“As these compensations would mainly be supplied by activities outside the sector, Parties to the Paris Agreement should carefully consider the relationship between CORSIA and the Paris Agreement. Parties should seek ways to further collaborate in the climate change process. This should create synergies and mutual support on the overall objectives of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, and the objectives of ICAO Resolution A39-3.”

Meanwhile, Transport & Environment fears that at the current ICAO Council Session, member states have voted to reject ten key sustainability criteria out of the 12 that were submitted to the Council by CAEP experts for biofuels that would qualify under CORSIA. Under the scheme, airlines using sustainable aviation fuels can be credited against their emissions obligations. A CAEP working group had recommended the defining criteria of “sustainable” that included 12 environmental and social safeguards.

According to T&E’s own sources, the two surviving rules are a 10% greenhouse gas reduction target for biofuels compared to fossil jet fuel and a ban on crops grown on land that was deforested after 2009. Removing the remaining safeguards is contrary to UN’s globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, it said.

The sustainability rules have implications beyond CORSIA because they will become the de facto global standard for biofuel use in the aviation sector, it added.

The Brussels-based group criticised the European Commission for agreeing to the Council position, which T&E claims has been supported by France, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Ireland and Germany, although opposed by the Netherlands and the UK.

“If this extreme weakening of the sustainability criteria for biofuels is confirmed, the European Commission will have effectively surrendered to ICAO, showing how little it cares about human rights or biodiversity,” said Carlos Calvo Ambel, T&E Analysis and Climate Manager.

Responding to T&E’s claim, an aviation industry spokesperson said: “The aviation sector has been working hard to ensure that the deployment of alternative fuels is done in a sustainable way, including as part of the CORSIA package. Industry is working with environmental groups and governments through the ICAO experts process to develop a robust set of sustainability criteria for the use of these fuels.

“We await the outcome of the Council meeting but according to reports, the sustainability criteria were partially adopted, with some being sent back to the experts for further evaluation in the coming months. Nothing was rejected, as we understand it, but rather needs more study. It is vital that this process is able to be done in a robust manner so we can rely on these elements well into the future.”

In its SBSTA submission, ICAO said its recent Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels had “confirmed the critical importance of ensuring the sustainability of aviation alternative fuels, which is currently under consideration by ICAO.”

Editor’s note: CORSIA will be the focus of the upcoming Aviation Carbon 2017 conference that takes place in London on December 4 and 5, with a session devoted to the role of sustainable aviation fuels in the global carbon offsetting scheme.





Copyright © 2017 GreenAir Communications

Heathrow adds emissions along with noise metrics to its airline performance league table

Wed 21 Jun 2017 – Heathrow Airport has extended its quarterly ‘Fly Quiet League Table’ to include for the first time the emissions performance as well as the noise performance of airlines serving the airport. The 50 busiest airlines at Heathrow are now publicly ranked on their efforts to reduce emissions from the aircraft they use for operations at the airport. A new metric has also been introduced that takes into account unscheduled night flights operating between 11.30pm and 4.30am. The league table has tracked airline noise performance since 2013 and is credited with incentivising airlines to use their quieter aircraft types and operating procedures at Heathrow. Based on data from January to March, British Airways short-haul, Aer Lingus and Etihad Airways were judged to be the cleanest and quietest fleets at the airport.

EU States back proposals on extending Aviation EU ETS ‘stop-the-clock’ and provisions for CORSIA review

Thu 22 Jun 2017 – EU Member States have agreed a common negotiating position ahead of talks with the European Parliament (EP) on existing regulations concerning the Aviation EU ETS and its post-2020 future when the global CORSIA market-based scheme starts. The Council, which represents the States, says it broadly supports European Commission proposals, including to extend the derogation – known as ‘stop-the-clock’ – for extra-EEA flights until the end of the current phase of the EU ETS in 2020. This is also supported by most EP members but as the derogation ceased to exist at the end of 2016, swift action will need to be taken to adopt a revision by the end of this year to avoid a legal gap. The two institutions must also agree on future steps to be taken in the light of decisions still to be reached at ICAO on the global scheme. A report has already been submitted by EP rapporteur Julie Girling, along with proposed amendments by members of the EP environment committee (ENVI), with a vote scheduled for July 11 and a EP plenary vote in the autumn.

UK airspace improvements help NATS reduce carbon emissions but more modernisation required, it warns

Fri 23 Jun 2017 – Air navigation service provider (ANSP) NATS reports that improvements to the design of UK airspace helped save 55,900 tonnes of CO2 in 2016, worth £6.2 million ($8m) in fuel savings for airlines. In 2008, NATS became the first ANSP in the world to set an airspace environmental target and says it is currently tracking at a 5 per cent improvement on a goal to reduce air traffic management (ATM) related CO2 emissions by 10 per cent by 2020. However, warns NATS, it will become more difficult to achieve this unless further efficiencies can be delivered by modernising UK airspace. CO2 savings in the previous year were 157,000 tonnes. In its annual Responsible Business report, NATS says its campaign to increase the use of continuous descent approach (CDA) procedures by aircraft landing at UK airports resulted in an additional 32,070 quieter arrivals in 2016 over 2015.

Virgin Atlantic sees impressive gains in fuel efficiency and an 8% fall in emissions as a result of fleet changes

Tue 27 Jun 2017 – Following a slowdown in the overall fuel efficiency of its fleet in 2015, Virgin Atlantic Airways has rebounded with an impressive 8 per cent annual improvement last year, according to the airline’s latest Sustainability Report 2017. This is largely down to the positive impact of Boeing 787 aircraft entering the fleet in 2016, improved passenger load factors and other operational gains. Total CO2e aircraft emissions fell from 4.43 million tonnes in 2015 to 4.08 million tonnes in 2016, from a high of 5.22 million tonnes in 2007 when Virgin Atlantic set a target to reduce CO2 emissions by 30 per cent per revenue tonne-kilometre (RTK) by 2020. The 22 per cent reduction since 2007 is matched by a 17 per cent fall in CO2 per RTK and a 22 per cent drop in CO2 per passenger km over the past 10 years. This, says the airline, puts it well ahead of the industry’s annual fuel efficiency improvement target for the period up to 2020.

US domestic aviation emissions could increase 33-50% by 2030 as a result of Trump climate withdrawal

Tue 27 Jun 2017 – Although there has been recent speculation over the possibility of the United States not joining the voluntary phase of ICAO’s CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme as a result of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, there are other implications for global aviation emissions. Pledges made by countries under the agreement must take into account reductions in domestic aviation emissions, which are not covered by CORSIA. Globally, domestic aviation emissions make up around 38 per cent of all aviation emissions, with the US responsible for nearly a half. According to research by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Centre for Aviation, Transport and the Environment (CATE), US domestic aviation emissions could rise by 33 to 50 per cent over 2005 levels if the US does not carry out its CO2 reduction plans and so heavily impact the sector’s overall emissions.

LAX and Gatwick step up recycling efforts with initiatives to turn airport waste into energy

Tue 2 May 2017 – Los Angeles International (LAX) and London Gatwick airports have started recycling initiatives to turn waste into either natural gas fuel or onsite energy use. In partnership with the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation (LASAN), LAX is beginning a 90-day pilot programme involving the collection of food waste from a targeted sample of airports restaurants and concessionaires, which will then be transported offsite for conversion into natural gas using an anaerobic digestion process. Solid and liquid organic waste that cannot be converted into methane gas will be converted into commercial-grade fertiliser. Gatwick Airport and DHL Supply Chain, meanwhile, have opened a new waste management plant, which they claim makes the airport the first in the world to turn both food and packaging waste into energy onsite.