Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 12-May-2022
This regular CAPA report provides a summary of recent aviation sustainability and environment news. This latest issue features:
Air France launches two sustainability demonstration flights
Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport offsets 100% of emissions in 2021 through carbon credits
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.
United Airlines signs purchase agreement for up to 52.5m gallons of SAF at Amsterdam Schiphol
United Airlines and Neste signed (10-May-2022) a purchase agreement for up to 52.5 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) over the next three years for United's operations at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
United will have the option to purchase up to 20 million gallons in the second year, and up to 30 million gallons in the final year.
The agreement represents the first US airline signing an international SAF purchase agreement. United Airlines is targeting net zero carbon emissions by 2050. [more - original PR] [more - original PR - II]
Original report: United Becomes First U.S. Airline to Sign Agreement to Purchase Sustainable Aviation Fuel Overseas
United, which has invested in more sustainable fuel production than any other airline in the world, became the first US airline to sign an international purchase agreement for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The airline has signed a new purchase agreement with Neste that provides United the right to buy up to 52.5 million gallons over the next three years for United flights at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, and potentially other airports as well.
"Reducing carbon emissions from fuel is the fastest way United will reach our 100% green goal by 2050. As the airline that has invested more than any other airline in sustainable aviation fuel production, it makes sense to expand our network of partners internationally with a leading company like Neste," said Lauren Riley, United's Chief Sustainability Officer. "The demand from our customers to limit their emissions from flying is growing exponentially, and this agreement means that United customers flying from Amsterdam, and potentially more airports, will be partners in our sustainability efforts."
Neste will provide United with 2.5 million gallons of SAF in Amsterdam in the first year. United will also have the right to purchase up to 20 million gallons in the second year, and up to 30 million gallons in the third year, at Amsterdam or other locations that Neste can supply throughout the globe, as Neste increases its SAF production.
This supply agreement is enabled by Neste's ambitious growth strategy, which will see the company producing 515 million gallons of SAF (1.5 million metric tons) per year by the end of 2023. Neste has been producing and delivering SAF since 2011 and has a proven track record of supplying SAF to customers in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
"We're excited to be partnering with United in this milestone purchase agreement and make our SAF available to United, also an industry leader in SAF investments," said Thorsten Lange, Executive Vice President, Renewable Aviation at Neste. "Our global, fast-growing SAF production and supply chain supports airlines and their customers in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Neste is committed to helping aviation transition to a more sustainable future, and we look forward to expanding our cooperation with United."
SAF delivers the performance of conventional jet fuel but with a significantly smaller carbon footprint on a lifecycle basis. Neste's SAF reduces lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions ("GHG") by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel and burns cleaner than conventional jet fuel reducing non-CO2 emissions, including particulate matter (PM). Neste MY Sustainable Aviation Fuel™ is produced from 100% sustainably sourced renewable waste and residue raw materials, including used cooking oil and animal fat waste.
United has aggressively pursued strategic investments in SAF producers and revolutionary technologies including carbon capture, hydrogen-electric engines, electric regional aircraft, and urban air mobility. United has invested in more SAF production than any other airline globally.
United's 100% green commitment
Here are some of the ways United plans to make sustainability the new standard in flight:
- In March, United invested in synthetic biology company Cemvita Factory for them to begin R&D efforts to bioengineer microbes with the express purpose of creating SAF.
- In December 2021, United purchased an equity stake in hydrogen-electric engine developer ZeroAvia, becoming the largest airline to invest in zero-emission engines for regional aircraft.
- In December 2021, United became the first in aviation history to fly an aircraft with passengers using 100% SAF.
- In September 2021, United agreed to purchase 1.5 billion gallons of SAF paired with an investment in Alder Fuels - enough to fly more than 57 million passengers.
- United is also an investor in Fulcrum BioEnergy, where United has an option to purchase up to 900 million gallons of SAF.
- In July 2021, United announced that along with Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Mesa Airlines, it invested in electric aircraft startup Heart Aerospace. Heart Aerospace is developing the ES-19, a 19-seat electric aircraft that has the potential to fly customers with zero emissions when powered by renewable electricity.
- In July 2021, Air Transport World magazine named United its Eco-Airline of the Year for the third time.
- In February 2021, United announced an agreement to work with Archer Aviation to accelerate the development and production of their electric aircraft – an urban mobility solution that has the potential to serve as an 'air taxi,' giving United customers another opportunity to reduce their carbon footprint before they even board a United flight.
- In 2019, United operated the Flight for the Planet, which at the time represented the most-eco-friendly commercial flight of its kind in the history of commercial aviation.
- In 2018, United became the first U.S. airline to commit to reducing its GHG emissions, by 50% by 2050. This goal has since been superseded by the airline's 100% green net zero commitment.
- In 2016, United became the first airline globally to use SAF in regular operations on a continuous basis with SAF from World Energy.
Etihad Airways completed (06-May-2022) its major sustainability test flight programme, successfully operating 22 contrail prevention flights in partnership with SATAVIA and 42 EcoFlights in total.
The initiative also explored:
- Flight path optimisation through coordination with ANSPs;
- Variable cruise speeds delivering up to 1.5% fuel savings per flight, in partnership with Boeing;
- Reduced landing flaps, resulting in approximately 30kg of fuel savings for each approach;
- Reduced engine taxi, shutting down a single engine on landing to reduce carbon emissions by 20-40%.
Etihad Aviation Group CEO Tony Douglas stated the milestone "is a big step forward" and signifies Airbus and Boeing "working in tandem for the mutual objective of aviation decarbonisation" through the Sustainable50 and Greenliner initiatives, along with GE and Rolls-Royce. [more - original PR]
Original report: Etihad Airways performs 42 EcoFlights including 22 contrail flights over five days
- Flights were operated in commemoration of Earth Day as part of Etihad’s efforts to raise industry awareness and participation in the drive for aviation decarbonisation
- EcoFlights tested a range of operational efficiencies and technologies, while contrail flights tested prevention systems with SATAVIA
- Flight tests included the first sustainability focused EcoFlights ever performed on an A350
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, has successfully performed the world’s most intensive sustainable flight testing programme, operating 42 flights over a five-day period to test operational efficiencies, technology and procedures that will reduce carbon emissions.
The programme, coinciding with Earth Day 2022, included 22 contrail prevention flights over the course of three days.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “We believe this is the most intensive sustainability flight testing programme ever conducted, the results of which will contribute to reducing aviation’s carbon emissions and environmental impact as the learnings are implemented into standard airline operations across the industry.
“Some of the technologies and operational efficiencies we have tested can be implemented today and we’re well in the process of putting these innovations into standard operational procedures, which we hope to see replicated across the industry, while some technologies are still in their infancy and we’ll continue to work with our partners to test and develop these for future use. However, there are a number of impactful solutions which are ready to go, but require an industry and regulatory response to become practical, that the industry needs to raise to the challenge for.”
Etihad points to Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF), which are in excess of six times more expensive than conventional aviation fuels at the moment and incredibly difficult to the point of impractical to procure, acknowledging that both SAF and Lower Carbon Aviation Fuel (LCAF) are needed for aviation’s energy transition.
“This challenge needs policy changes from Governments, continued R&D, supply chain enhancements and refining improvements,” said Douglas.
“The other big area, which has a simple solution but requires fundamental restructure to the way things currently work, is for the industry, traffic controllers and regulators to modernize flight paths for controlled climbs and continuous descent. In our demonstration EcoFlights we've been able to take at least 40 minutes out of flight times and reduce the CO2 content by around six tonnes, which is incredible.”
“Operating EcoFlights on the A350-1000 is a big step forward as an example of the world’s two largest aircraft manufactures working in tandem for the mutual objective of aviation decarbonisation through Etihad’s comprehensive Sustainable50 and Greenliner sustainability programme.”
Technology and processes tested included:
- Optimised Flight Paths: Coordinated with ANSPs to optimise flight paths, direct routing and optimised descent.
- Contrails Prevention: When water vapour is ejected from the engine exhaust into sufficiently cold air, it condenses, creating tiny ice crystals. In certain atmospheric conditions, these ice crystals create layers of cirrus clouds, causing a ‘blanket’ effect which keeps warmer air trapped in the lower atmosphere. Working with UK-based SATAVIA, Etihad avoiding flying into these areas, reducing non CO2 emissions.
- Variable speed during cruise: Pilots use a specific software that suggests an optimal cruise speed based on actual atmospheric condition and weight of the aircraft. Etihad is one of the few airlines that partner with Boeing for the development of this software. The fuel savings are about 1.5% for each flight.
- Reduced Flaps for Landing: when landing on sufficiently long runways, using reduced flaps reduces the drag and requires less thrust and less fuel consumption during the approach phase. It reduces the noise disturbance near airports as well. This results in approximately 30kgs of fuel saving for each approach.
- Reduced engine taxi: most of the ground movements are conducted utilizing only the power of one engine. By shutting down a single engine of the aircraft when it lands, Etihad reduced carbon emissions produced by 20 to 40%.
- Cabin lights off for one minute during flight: a symbolic act for Earth Day happening across the world from 8:30pm to 9:30pm, Etihad’s EcoFlight was a first for the industry.
The Greenliner and Sustainable50 programmes in partnership with Boeing, Airbus, GE and Rolls Royce is Etihad’s platform to foster industry collaboration and tackle the biggest challenges the industry faces for decarbonsation, operating as a testing platform as well as call to industry, governments and regulators for solutions-driven collaboration.
Through these programmes, and Etihad’s ongoing research and testing initiatives such as EcoFlights, Etihad encourages and invites partners from across the aviation sector to join and test sustainability initiatives on scheduled 787 and A350 operations. The results are then processed and validated, with the most sustainable initiatives used as a base for improving the performance of the global airline community.
The results and data from Etihad’s Earth Day EcoFlight and Contrail flight testing programme will be formulated and analysed over the coming weeks, to be added to the knowledge base it has built to support the aviation industry on its journey to decarbonisation.
Etihad has publishing its 2020-2021 Sustainability Report, documenting the previous two years of the airline’s sustainability efforts – from ground-based electric tractors, to airspace efficiency improvements, and even to experimental test-flying with NASA and Boeing, available for download here
Air France launches two sustainability demonstration flights
Air France participated (04-May-2022) in the "SkyTeam Sustainable Flight Challenge", by operating two sustainability driven demonstration flights from Paris CDG to Montreal and Lisbon, on 03-May-2022 and 04-May-2022 respectively.
The SkyTeam initiative encourages member airlines to operate the most eco-responsible flights possible from 01-May-2022 to 14-May-2022.
Through the implementation of eco-responsible methods and technology during the ground and onboard operations, a CO2 reduction of almost 45% was achieved on both flights.
Original report: Air France Halves CO2 Emissions on Two of Its Flights with a Series of Actions to Limit Its Environmental Footprint
- A reduction achieved on two flights to Montreal and Lisbon by activating proven decarbonization methods and testing new eco-responsible initiatives,
- An illustration of Air France's commitment to reducing its environmental footprint, in line with the Air France Act programme.
On 13 April, Air France launched "Air France ACT", a programme presenting its new decarbonisation trajectory aiming for 30% less CO2 emissions per passenger-km by 2030 compared to 2019, i.e. 12% less total emissions. In order to illustrate the ways in which this objective can be achieved, the company is today simultaneously implementing a series of actions on two of its flights leaving from Paris-Charles de Gaulle.
This project is part of the "Skyteam Sustainable Flight Challenge", an initiative aimed at stimulating and encouraging innovation by inviting the alliance's member airlines to operate the most eco-responsible flights possible from 1 to 14 May 2022.
In this way, Air France intends to -
- measure and illustrate the effectiveness of methods already implemented and proven, such as new generation aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), eco-piloting, and the use of electric ramp and cargo transport equipment
- explore new avenues that could be exploited in the future, such as the extensive use of artificial intelligence to optimise flight paths, or the use of autonomous tractors for baggage transport,
- offering customers more sustainable, local and seasonal catering, limiting food waste by allowing them to choose the in-flight menu before they fly, and limiting single-use plastic,
The operation took place on two commercial flights, one to Montreal operated by an Airbus A350 on 3 May 2022, and the other to Lisbon on 4 May 2022, operated by an Airbus A220. These latest generation aircraft, which are at the heart of Air France's fleet renewal strategy, consume 20 to 25% less fuel than previous generation aircraft. Their noise footprint is reduced by a third. By 2030, these aircraft will account for 70% of the Air France fleet, compared with 7% today, thanks to an investment of one billion euros per year between now and 2025.
The flight to Montreal was fuelled with 16% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and the flight to Lisbon with 30% SAF, compared with 1% currently used on flights leaving from France under the current regulations. These non-fossil fuels are produced from biomass such as used cooking oil. They therefore do not compete with the food chain and allow an average reduction of 80% in CO2 emissions compared to conventional fuel over their entire life cycle. To take the example of used vegetable oils, this means taking into account the capture of CO2 during the growth of the plant, its first life as cooking oil, its recycling and its use as aviation fuel.
On the ground and on board, the pilots implemented eco-piloting techniques, such as taxiing on a single engine on the ground and optimising trajectories in real time, in coordination with air traffic control.
The use of these methods enabled a reduction of close to 45% in CO2 emissions on each of the two flights(1). This operation and its significant result were made possible thanks to the commitment of staff from all Air France sectors, pilots, flight crews, ground staff, cargo and maintenance personnel, commercial services and operational support. Several other companies and partners have also contributed to this achievement, such as Airbus, TotalEnergies, Groupe ADP, Servair, Charlatte, Navya, and Montreal and Lisbon airports. This joint action is in line with Air France's conviction that the decarbonization of the aviation sector will be the result of a joint collaboration with manufacturers, airlines, airport authorities, public authorities and national and international bodies.
Vincent Etchebehere, VP Sustainability and new mobilities at Air France said: "After the announcement of our new science-based CO2 emission reduction targets, it was important for us to illustrate in concrete terms how our sector must transform itself to respond to the climate emergency. On two flights, to Montreal and Lisbon, we have involved our partners and customers in a process aimed at proving the performance of the exisiting procedures, and at coming up with new solutions to take our efforts to reduce our emissions one step further. Our environmental transition is demanding and complex, but it is not an option. Air France is determined to explore all the avenues of innovation used by the other airlines in the SkyTeam alliance, which share its ambition to make air transport compatible with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.”
The figures, such as the level of reduction in CO2 emissions for each of the levers activated, as well as the feedback from customers present on both flights will be analysed. This information will be used to consider the most appropriate ways of limiting the carbon footprint of Air France's scheduled operations in the future.
These findings will be shared with the other SkyTeam alliance airlines that took part in the Skyteam Sustainable Flight Challenge.
The entire Air France environmental strategy can be consulted on the dedicated website: airfranceact.airfrance.com
Actions implemented at each stage of the trip:
Before the flight :
- A message is sent to customers to ask them to limit the volume and weight of their baggage. In order to limit food waste, they are encouraged to pre-select their meals so only the necessary products are loaded on board;
- In the lounges, more sustainable, local and seasonal products are offered and eco-responsible materials are used;
- Fully electric ground operations, with electric push-back of the aircraft, transport of crews by electric bus between their base and the aircraft parking stand and electric transport of cargo.
- Use of new generation aircraft (Airbus A350, Airbus A220) emitting up to 25% less CO2;
- Use of 16% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (produced by TotalEnergies) on the flight to Montreal and 30% on the flight to Lisbon, in the case of these two flights allowing a 90% reduction of CO2 emissions over the entire life cycle, higher than the industry average of 80%;
- Use of eco-piloting techniques (taxiing on just one engine, use of on-board innovations for tactical trajectory optimisation, optimisation of climb and descent), allowing a 3 to 4% reduction in fuel consumption on each flight;
- Use of more sustainable catering equipment (lighter, new generation meal trolley, recycled and recyclable trays, tableware made from celullose, FSC wooden cutlery and stirrers, paper cups, removal of individual plastic bottles);
- Limiting waste by choosing a hot dish before the flight in all cabins and distributing comfort kits (produced from recycled materials and containing organic cosmetics) on request in Business and Premium Economy;
- Selective sorting on board: sorting of plastic bottles, juice boxes and cans;
Introduction of a more sustainable catering service, entirely prepared in France, with a 100% vegetarian offer on medium-haul flights and the possibility for customers travelling to Montreal to choose before the flight between a vegetarian service or a dish including meat from France or fish from MSC sustainable fishing
(1)These figures will be refined in the coming days
Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport offsets 100% of emissions in 2021 through carbon credits
Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport announced (04-May-2022) it reduced CO2 emissions by 5% in 2021, compared to 2019.
The airport stated it offset 100% direct and indirect emissions through the purchase of carbon credits, with funding going towards green projects in Kenya, Peru and Indonesia. [more - original PR - Italian]
Original report: DECARBONIZZAZIONE: L’AEROPORTO DI BOLOGNA FINANZIA PROGETTI DI TUTELA AMBIENTALE IN KENIA, PERU’ E INDONESIA
Non si ferma l’impegno dell’Aeroporto di Bologna sui temi dello sviluppo sostenibile e della riduzione dell’impatto ambientale.
Nel corso del 2021, la società di gestione del Marconi ha ridotto le proprie emissioni totali di CO2 del 5% rispetto al 2019 (ultimo anno pre-Covid) ed ha compensato il 100% delle emissioni generate direttamente e indirettamente sullo scalo tramite l'acquisto di "crediti di carbonio". Il “credito di carbonio” è un titolo negoziabile, ovvero un certificato equivalente ad una tonnellata di CO2 non emessa o assorbita tramite il finanziamento di un progetto di tutela ambientale realizzato con lo scopo di ridurre le emissioni globali di gas ad effetto serra, i gas responsabili del riscaldamento climatico globale.
Nel dettaglio, grazie alla collaborazione con Shell Energy Italia, Aeroporto di Bologna ha compensato l’emissione in atmosfera di 2.579 tonnellate di CO2 prodotte dalla combustione del gas metano utilizzato per il funzionamento dello scalo, attraverso il sostegno di progetti green in Kenia, Perù e Indonesia.
Tramite il supporto tecnico di CO2 Advisor, inoltre, la società di gestione del Marconi ha compensato altre 2.097 tonnellate di CO2 prodotte principalmente dalle centrali termiche dello scalo, finanziando un progetto di produzione di energia idroelettrica in Indonesia.
La compensazione delle emissioni di CO2 prodotte dall’aeroporto e il finanziamento di corrispondenti progetti di decarbonizzazione continuano anche per il 2022, nell’ambito dell’adesione del Marconi all’impegno di ACI Europe verso “Net Zero Carbon Emissions from Airport Operations” e del più articolato Piano di Sostenibilità di AdB, che prevede, tra le varie attività, anche importanti investimenti in energia rinnovabile ed efficienza energetica.
ZeroAvia announced (10-May-2022) a collaboration with strategic investor Shell, which will design and construct two commercial-scale mobile refuellers for ZeroAvia's research and development site in Hollister (California).
Shell will also provide compressed, low-carbon hydrogen supply to the facility and other locations in the western US, supporting ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric flight testing in the US and advancing the company's Hydrogen Airport Refuelling Ecosystem on a larger scale.
Shell GM, hydrogen Oliver Bishop stated: "Shell recognizes the aviation sector has unique challenges in decarbonisation and needs practical and scalable net zero solutions... We believe ZeroAvia's technology is a viable option, and this agreement will allow us to demonstrate successful provision of low-carbon hydrogen supply while supporting development of codes, standards and refuelling protocols for hydrogen-powered aviation". [more - original PR]
Original report: ZeroAvia Makes Major Strides in Hydrogen Refueling with Shell Collaboration and Airport Pipeline Launch
ZeroAvia, a leader in hydrogen-electric solutions for aviation, today announced a collaboration with its strategic investor Shell, who will design and build two commercial-scale mobile refuelers for use at ZeroAvia’s research and development site in Hollister, California. The announcement follows recent positive predictions relating to the falling price trajectory of hydrogen fuel and a flurry of State-led activity for establishing H2 Hubs as the Department of Energy prepares to receive bids from across the U.S.
At ZeroAvia’s test facility in Hollister, Shell will also provide compressed, low-carbon hydrogen supply to the facility and other locations in the Western U.S. This strategic collaboration will support the development of ZeroAvia’s flight testing program in the U.S. following the arrival of its second Dornier 228 at Hollister last month and will advance the company’s Hydrogen Airport Refueling Ecosystem (HARE) on a larger scale.
ZeroAvia’s zero-emission powertrains use hydrogen fuel in a fuel cell to create a chemical reaction which produces electricity. That electricity then powers electric motors that spin the propellers, while producing no emissions other than water.
“Shell recognizes the aviation sector has unique challenges in decarbonization and needs practical and scalable net-zero solutions,” said Oliver Bishop, general manager, Hydrogen at Shell. “We believe ZeroAvia’s technology is a viable option, and this agreement will allow us to demonstrate successful provision of low-carbon hydrogen supply while supporting development of codes, standards, and refueling protocols for hydrogen-powered aviation.”
The deal with Shell comes as ZeroAvia also unveils Europe’s first landside-to-airside hydrogen airport pipeline. The 100 meter long hydrogen pipeline runs alongside ZeroAvia’s hangar at Cotswold Airport in the UK. The company will utilize it alongside an electrolyzer and mobile refueler to use low-carbon hydrogen for its test flight program. The pipeline will help ZeroAvia demonstrate and explore the operational safety case for hydrogen pipelines and refueling infrastructure at airports.
ZeroAvia received support for the pipeline from the UK Government’s Department for Transport and the Connected Places Catapult as part of the Zero Emission Flight Infrastructure (ZEFI) program to enable airports and airfields to prepare for the future of zero-emission operations.
Both projects also enable ZeroAvia to further explore the connection between aircraft refueling and landside hydrogen use cases, such as road transport. ZeroAvia operates multiple hydrogen fuel cell road vehicles as part of its operations at Cotswold Airport and Hollister, demonstrating the potential for airports to act as hydrogen hubs for onward transport and ground operations.
“These milestone announcements represent significant hydrogen infrastructure advancement for ZeroAvia and the industry,” said Arnab Chatterjee, VP infrastructure, ZeroAvia. “Hydrogen-electric aviation is the only practical, holistic, and economically attractive solution to aviation’s growing climate change impact. Fuel provision needs to be economical and convenient for airlines to achieve operational cost benefits and ZeroAvia is leading these pioneering infrastructure developments together with leading partners like Shell.”
The company has also been working alongside the Department for Transport and Connected Places Catapult on a concept study for liquid hydrogen mobile refueling vehicles. This will inform ZeroAvia’s development of a large-scale liquid hydrogen refueling truck, an important step as the company progresses its powertrains from gaseous to liquid hydrogen to support larger aircraft.
ZeroAvia will begin flight-testing its ZA600 hydrogen-electric powertrain this summer using its two Dornier-228 testbed aircraft, first in the UK, and later replicating this work on the US-based demonstrator. The development of this 600kW powertrain is part of Project HyFlyer II and will deliver a fully certified powertrain for aircraft of up to 19-seats by 2024. HyFlyer II is supported by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy (BEIS), Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), and Innovate UK through the ATI Programme. The company is also now retrofitting a second Dornier-228 testbed in Hollister, California, to conduct further flight testing.
Earlier this month, ZeroAvia also announced its partnership with ZEV Station to develop hydrogen hubs at airports throughout California. These announcements signify ZeroAvia’s leadership in zero-emission powertrain technology and corresponding hydrogen infrastructure to support the transition to cleaner aviation solutions.