Loading

Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 11-Nov-2021

Analysis

Virgin Australia commits to net zero by 2050

Wizz Air CEO: 'The world is a mess when it comes to sustainability'

Air Malta executive chairman: 'Pandemic exposed' industry’s contribution to climate change

ZeroAvia and ASL Aviation Holdings partner to develop ATR 72 hydrogen-electric engine conversions

US FAA announces US Aviation Climate Action Plan, targets net zero sector emissions by 2050

This CAPA report features a summary of recent aviation sustainability and environment news, selected from the 300+ news alerts published daily by CAPA. For more information, please contact us.

Virgin Australia commits to net zero by 2050

Virgin Australia committed (08-Nov-2021) to a target of net zero emissions by 2050, underpinned by practical, innovative initiatives designed to build from the airline's efforts in sustainability.

Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka stated: "I really don't think we have a choice but to commit to Net Zero emissions by 2050", adding "We're passionate about this, we absolutely intend to be successful at it".

Ms Hrdlicka said: "While SAF is an essential piece of the puzzle, there's a lot more to it than that", noting the carrier is to "look at every single lever in the mix of emissions and offsets to try to get as close to net zero emissions well before 2050", noting single use plastics need to be removed "entirely".

Ms Hrdlicka said customers were becoming increasingly conscious of their own carbon footprints, wanting to ensure that they're making good decisions with respect to that carbon footprint. [more - original PR]

Original report: Virgin Australia commits to net zero by 2050

Virgin Australia has committed to a target of Net Zero Emissions by 2050, underpinned by practical, innovative initiatives designed to build from the airline’s historical efforts in sustainability.

Speaking at the IATA Sustainable Aviation Fuel Symposium on 4 November, Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka acknowledged the role aviation has to play in reducing global emissions and committed Virgin Australia to a Net Zero by 2050 target.

“We've all got an obligation to do the very best job we can at protecting the environment and protecting our futures," Ms Hrdlicka said.

“I really don't think we have a choice but to commit to Net Zero emissions by 2050.

“We’re passionate about this, we absolutely intend to be successful at it.”

The 2050 commitment and pathway will complement Virgin Australia’s existing sustainability measures, including having been the first airline in Australia to test Sustainable Aviation Fuel in the supply chain.

The airline has previously announced the addition of more fuel efficient MAX 10 aircraft to its fleet (commencing in 2023), has already made substantial progress in reducing on-board waste, and already holds Australian-based environmental partnerships to underpin its carbon offsets.

Ms Hrdlicka was realistic about the challenges associated with reaching Net Zero, saying the airline would be practical and innovative in its approach.

“While SAF is an essential piece of the puzzle, there’s a lot more to it than that,” Ms Hrdlicka said.

“We have to look at every single lever in the mix of emissions and offsets to try to get as close to Net Zero emissions well before 2050, wherever that's possible.

“Every single day we have single use plastics that are used in parts of our operation – we need to get rid of that entirely,” she said.

“Making sure we’re using recyclable items, making sure all of our ground activity is done with zero emissions, and we’re using sustainable fuels throughout our processes – wherever that’s possible.

“Working with all of our partners to ensure [this] end-to-end. We’re thinking through supply chain opportunities, [and] offsetting our carbon emissions where that’s practical and feasible to do.”

Ms Hrdlicka said customers were becoming increasingly be conscious of their own carbon footprints, wanting to ensure that they're making good decisions with respect to that carbon footprint.

“I think the next 12 months is going to be still a period of re-norming,” Ms Hrdlicka said.

“And then consumers are going to start to care again about those things that really do speak to things that matter to them at the core.

“It’s our job during that period to start to get the narrative right and to engage with consumers in a way that helps them realise the consequence of their actions and what we’re doing to help them.”

Wizz Air CEO: 'The world is a mess when it comes to sustainability'

Wizz Air CEO József Váradi, speaking at CAPA Live November 2021, stated (10-Nov-2021) "at the moment I think the world is a mess when it comes to sustainability".

He added: "We talk a lot about it, we greenwash a lot at the moment, but I don't think we are really acting together the right way. So that needs to be sorted out".

Mr Váradi said there is "a lot of technical manoeuvring" and "a lot of greenwashing happening at the moment", adding: "The real solution of the industry is going to be around technology".

He said: "It requires engineering efforts, it requires a lot of R&D effort and it will take some time".

Air Malta executive chairman: 'Pandemic exposed' industry’s contribution to climate change

Air Malta executive chairman David Curmi, speaking at CAPA Live November 2021, stated (10-Nov-2021) the "pandemic exposed our industry's contribution to human induced climate change", citing a decrease in emissions of over 400 million tonnes in 2020 compared to 2019, due to reduced flying.

Mr Curmi added that the pandemic showed "that there is significant opportunity for the industry to continue to work towards its environmental responsibility and commitment".

Mr Curmi said governments must work together with the industry to "move away from fossil fuel and ultimately to carbon free power".

ZeroAvia and ASL Aviation Holdings partner to develop ATR 72 hydrogen-electric engine conversions

ZeroAvia partnered (09-Nov-2021) with ASL Aviation Holdings to develop hydrogen-electric engine conversions for ATR 72 aircraft.

The parties expect the project to culminate in ASL placing an order with ZeroAvia for the conversion of up to 10 of its ATR 72Fs.

Under the partnership, ASL Airlines Ireland will provide a retired ATR 72F for the programme development and eventual use as a demonstrator.

ASL is to then convert a number of its freighters to introduce zero-emission hydrogen-electric powered operations, expected to enter service in 2026.

ASL Aviation Holdings CEO Dave Andrew said ZeroAvia will support ASL's "provision of cargo services and vital connectivity in an environmentally sustainable way without having to wait for the introduction of new aircraft types". [more - original PR]

Original report: ASL Aviation Holdings Signs Deal with ZeroAvia for Zero Emission Freight Operations

ZeroAvia, the leading innovator in hydrogen-electric zero emission powertrains, today announced that it has signed an agreement to partner with ASL Aviation Holdings in developing hydrogen-electric engine conversions for ATR72 aircraft. The project will ultimately include an order with ZeroAvia for converting up to 10 of ASL's owned ATR72 freighter aircraft to hydrogen-electric propulsion, resulting in zero emission cargo operations.

Under the deal, ASL Airlines Ireland will provide a retired ATR72F aircraft for the program development and subsequent use as a demonstrator. ASL will then convert a number of owned aircraft on its freight operations, resulting in the launch of zero-emission hydrogen-electric powered operations for the carrier from 2026 onwards.

ASL Aviation Holdings and ZeroAvia are members of the ASL CargoVision Forum, an initiative to drive innovation and sustainability in the air cargo industry. Working together in this forum, ZeroAvia and ASL aim to use ZeroAvia's new technology to  reduce emissions progressively in the regional sector where connectivity is a critical issue.

Dave Andrew, CEO, ASL Aviation Holdings, said: "This deal with ZeroAvia's further strengthens ASL's commitment to being a first-mover in the introduction of new emissions reduction technology in our current fleet. ZeroAvia  will support us in the provision of cargo services and vital connectivity in an environmentally sustainable way without having to wait for the introduction of new aircraft types. It's critical for ASL that we take immediate steps to reduce our carbon footprint and ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric powertrain will allow us to operate cost effective regional freight services using existing aircraft that are now powered by traditional turbines. ZeroAvia's early flight test successes are promising, and we are also excited by the extensive R&D they have put into the green hydrogen production and the refueling ecosystem needed to support air operations."

Val Miftakhov, CEO and founder, ZeroAvia said: "ASL has identified zero emissions technology as an enormous priority and, happily, is pursuing the opportunity with energy. Given our success in demonstrating the technology in flight testing, the advanced nature of the R&D for our first certifiable configuration, and the technological progress we are making, we are confident that this partnership will lead to some of the earliest commercial freight operations using hydrogen-electric propulsion.

ZeroAvia will collaborate with ASL on the development of its ZA2000 Powertrain. This engine replacement is a 2 - 5 megawatt (MW) powertrain for aircraft models that are typically outfitted with 40 - 90 seats in passenger configurations. The ATR variant is optimised to be retrofitted on the ATR72 aircraft and utilises a hydrogen fuel cell and electric motor powertrain.

To support the refueling of these aircraft, ZeroAvia is currently working toward scaling its already developed Hydrogen Airport Refuelling Ecosystem (HARE), which was developed with EMEC as part of the HyFlyer programme in the UK Government backed ATI programme. In addition, ZeroAvia was recently awarded a new transport research and innovation grant from the UK Department for Transport's Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure (ZEFI) programme, in order to explore concepts for liquid hydrogen refuelling in an airport setting.

US FAA announces US Aviation Climate Action Plan, targets net zero sector emissions by 2050

US FAA announced (09-Nov-2021) the release of the US Aviation Climate Action Plan, a series of federal government initiatives targeting net zero greenhouse gas emissions from the US aviation sector by 2050.

Key details include:

  • Increasing the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF);
  • Developing new aircraft technologies through the Sustainable Flight National Partnership between the FAA, NASA and industry partners, which seeks to develop aircraft and engine technologies targeting up to a 30% improvement in fuel savings compared to modern aircraft;
  • Increasing operations efficiency during taxiing, takeoff and landing, as well as through optimised flying trajectories;
  • Cutting airport emissions and boosting airport resilience through incentive programmes, such as the Zero Emission Vehicle Programme, Energy Efficiency Programme and the Airport Cooperative Research Programme. [more - original PR]

Original report: U.S. Releases First-Ever Comprehensive Aviation Climate Action Plan to Achieve Net-Zero Emissions by 2050

At the United Nations Climate Change Conference, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will announce the U.S. Aviation Climate Action Plan, which, for the first time, sets out to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S. aviation sector by 2050. 

“The Climate Action Plan we are announcing today is ambitious yet achievable, and will help create a sustainable aviation future. This plan shows we can combat climate change while growing the economy and creating good-paying American jobs," Secretary Buttigieg said. 

Key initiatives in the plan include: 

Increasing Production of Sustainable Aviation Fuels: Sustainable fuels produced from renewable and waste feedstocks can provide the greatest impact in our effort to reduce aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Such fuels will be critical to the aviation industry’s ability to meet the net-zero emissions goal and they have the potential, on a lifecycle basis, to slash emissions by up to 100 percent. Sustainable aviation fuels can be used in today’s fleet of aircraft, without modification, and can be produced from a wide range of feedstocks, including wastes, residues, biomass, sugar, oils and gaseous sources of carbon.

Developing New Aircraft Technologies: Through the Sustainable Flight National Partnership, NASA and the FAA are working with industry to accelerate the development of more efficient aircraft and engine technologies targeting up to a 30-percent improvement in fuel savings compared to today’s planes, while also delivering substantial noise and emissions reduction benefits. New and more efficient narrow-body aircraft could enter the U.S. fleet in the 2030s and new wide-body aircraft in the 2040s. 

Increasing Operations Efficiency: While the U.S. National Airspace System is efficient, there are opportunities to reduce fuel burn in all phases of flight. These includes boosting efficiency during taxiing, takeoff and landing, as well as flying optimized trajectories. Research shows that aircraft operations also affect the climate through non-CO2 emissions, especially via contrails and aviation-induced cloudiness – the line-shaped clouds that can form behind a jet engine as hot exhaust gases mix with the surrounding cooler air. The U.S. government is supporting research to cost-effectively reduce some of aviation’s climate impact by limiting contrail formation.

Cutting Airport Emissions, Boosting Airport Resilience: The government provides incentives to reduce emissions from airports through several programs, including, among others, the Zero Emission Vehicle Program, which provides grants to replace or convert ground vehicles for zero-emission vehicles, and the Energy Efficiency Program, which provides funding to identify and implement energy reduction measures at airports. The Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP), sponsored by the FAA, helps airports identify climate risks and boost resilience.  

“The U.S. has led in aviation for decades, and we must continue that leadership by building a sustainable aviation system. Our freedom to fly requires us to take action,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said. 

The announcement follows the Sustainable Aviation Fuels Grand Challenge, a government-wide initiative designed to catalyze the production of at least three billion gallons per year by 2030. Earlier this year, the FAA announced more than $100 million in matching grants to increase aircraft efficiency, reduce noise and aircraft emissions, and develop and implement new software to reduce taxi delays. 

The agency has also invested more than $300 million to electrify airport equipment and solicitation to find a sustainable air traffic control tower. This builds on provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure legislation, including investments in electric vehicles and public transit that will further address carbon emissions in the transportation sector.

Want More Analysis Like This?

CAPA Membership provides access to all news and analysis on the site, along with access to many areas of our comprehensive databases and toolsets.
Find Out More