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Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 19-Feb-2021

Analysis

European aviation sector launches 'Destination 2050' net zero emissions strategy

S&P Global Dow Jones Index recognises LATAM Airlines as South America's most sustainable carrier

Edmonton Airport: WeFaces Technology to open solar facility at Airport City

Clean Sky makes progress with PERF-AI, using AI to optimise flight trajectories and reduce emissions

SAP Concur: Nearly half of corporate travellers lack information on sustainability in travel

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.

European aviation sector launches 'Destination 2050' net zero emissions strategy

Europe's aviation sector launched (11-Feb-2021) 'Destination 2050', a new initiative detailing a route to reaching net zero European aviation emissions by 2050.

Building on the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal, Destination 2050 sees all air traffic within and departing the EUUK and the EFTA realising net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

The sector calls for decisive action from both governments and industry to achieve this net zero vision by 2050, while upholding international competitiveness and aviation's benefits to society.

The plan highlights opportunities to reach the goal through a combination of four key measures, aligning the European aviation sector with EU climate goals, as follows:

  • Improvements in aircraft and engine technologies that could achieve emission reductions of 37%;
  • Using sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) that could achieve emission reductions of 34%;
  • Advancements in hydrogen power technology that could achieve emissions reductions of 20%;
  • Implementing economic measures to achieve emission reductions of 8%;
  • Improvements in ATM and aircraft operations targeting emission reductions of 6%.

The Destination 2050 report further assumes an impact on demand due to the above measures, resulting in the net zero CO2 goal.

European air passenger numbers remain projected to grow on average by approximately 1.4% p/a between 2018 and 2050 without compromising the sector's ability to reach net zero CO2 emissions by this point. [more - original PR] [more - original PR - II]

Original report: Europe’s aviation sector launches ambitious plan to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050

Europe’s aviation sector launches ambitious plan to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050

  • Opportunity to reach net zero CO2 emissions through a combination of measures, making flying more sustainable for the long term.
  • Sector calls for decisive action from both governments and industry to achieve this net zero vision by 2050, while upholding international competitiveness and aviation’s benefits to society.

Europe’s aviation sector today unveiled its flagship sustainability initiative, Destination 2050 – A Route to Net Zero European Aviation. Driven by a new, independent report, it provides a vision and path for meaningful CO2 emission reduction efforts in Europe and globally. This follows recent climate commitments announced by the sector last November in the Round Table Report on the Recovery of European Aviation which called upon institutional stakeholders to join the sector in an EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation by the end of 2021 – a call reiterated today. 

Building on the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal, Destination 2050 sees all flights within and departing the EUUK and EFTA realising net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. The ambitious plan and related commitments laid out by Europe’s airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers and air navigation service providers shows collective leadership of the European aviation sector to reduce CO2 emissions, with the goal of making leisure and business air travel in Europe, and globally, more sustainable in the long term. 

According to the report, there is an opportunity to reach net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 through a combination of four key measures, aligning European aviation with EU climate goals – subject to securing the required supporting policy and financing framework at EU and national level. These four measures include: 

•    Improvements in aircraft and engine technologies could achieve emission reductions of 37% 
•    Using sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) could achieve emission reductions of 34% 
•    Implementing economic measures could achieve emission reductions of 8% 
•    Improvements in air traffic management (ATM) and aircraft operations could achieve emission reductions of 6% 

The Destination 2050 report further assumes an impact on demand due to the above measures, resulting in the net zero CO2 goal. Nevertheless, European air passenger numbers are projected to grow on average by approximately 1.4% per year between 2018 and 2050 without compromising the sector’s ability to reach net zero CO2 emissions by this point. 

Destination 2050 highlights that to make the net zero vision for European aviation by 2050 a reality, while maintaining international competitiveness and aviation’s benefits to society - quick, decisive joint actions by governments and industry will be needed. Industry will need to continue to substantially invest in decarbonisation and innovation and make the necessary operational transitions, while governments will need to ensure a level playing field and facilitate the transition through incentives and by reducing investment risks with consistent and stable policy frameworks. 

This is the first pan-European, industry-wide, long-term vision that comes with concrete solutions to the complex challenge of reducing CO2 emissions from commercial flights within and departing the EUUK and EFTA. The initiative is led by five European aviation associations – ACI EUROPE (Airports Council International), AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD Europe), Airlines for Europe (A4E), Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) and European Regions Airline Association (ERA). The report was made possible thanks to the work of the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) and SEO Amsterdam Economics. 

“This long-planned vision and roadmap for the future of European aviation underlines our sector’s commitment and determination to play our part in tackling climate change despite the current crisis. A robust regulatory framework will be paramount in achieving not only an environmentally sustainable future, but also a financially resilient and competitive European aviation industry as a whole. We remain committed to work with policy-makers to take aviation forward jointly for the next generation of travellers,” said Thomas Reynaert, Managing Director at A4E

“The Air Traffic Management industry and the rest of the aviation sector in Europe have come together to present a solution to our common challenge – reducing carbon emissions, while still delivering valuable economic and social benefits. With improvements across the sector, we aim to make a meaningful impact and help to achieve Europe’s climate goals,” said Tanja Grobotek, Director Europe Affairs at CANSO

“The decisive and tangible actions set out in this roadmap are unprecedented. Here we have an entire sector not just committing to decarbonisation, but actually charting the path to make it happen and effectively contribute to the EU’s Climate objectives and the Paris Agreement. But whilst we embrace our responsibilities, it is clear that we cannot do this alone. It takes two to tango. Now we need the EU to deliver the policy and regulatory framework that will enable us to deliver net zero European Aviation by 2050. We therefore urge institutional stakeholders to respond to our call and now join the EU Pact for Sustainable Aviation we tabled last November,” said Olivier Jankovec, Director General at ACI EUROPE. 

“This is a pivotal moment for sustainability and innovation for many industries, including aviation. The European aviation sector will take a strong leadership and collaboration position through its strengths in innovation and technology. The achievement of the goals of this roadmap is possible provided that the EU and national governments play their part through increased public funding for civil aviation research & technology. This will also have wider benefits globally, taking into account the European aeronautics industry’s global leadership,” said Vincent De Vroey, ASD Civil Aviation Director. 

“Robust economic measures and much needed government and regulatory support in the short term will be necessary to bridge the gap until innovation, technology and sustainable aviation fuels become more widely available to help our industry reach its environmental targets. Our industry wants to be a part of a clean recovery that has a lasting positive impact whilst still providing essential connectivity to Europe’s citizens; we will take positive steps to make it happen,” said Montserrat Barriga, Director General, ERA.

S&P Global Dow Jones Index recognises LATAM Airlines as South America's most sustainable carrier

LATAM Airlines announced (11-Feb-2021) the carrier was recognised by S&P Global Dow Jones Index as South America's most sustainable airline in the silver class, and second in the world.

The carrier is among the 5% most sustainable carriers in the world. [more - original PR - Portuguese]

Original report - Portuguese: LATAM é reconhecida como a melhor companhia aérea da América do Sul e a segunda do mundo em Sustentabilidade

O anuário “The Sustainability Yearbook” aponta as empresas com melhor gestão ambiental, social e governança corporativa

O Grupo LATAM Airlines acaba de ser listado na edição 2021 do anuário “The Sustainability Yearbook” do S&P Global Dow Jones Index (DJSI) como a melhor companhia aérea em Sustentabilidade na América do Sul e a segunda em todo o mundo. A LATAM foi reconhecida pela primeira vez na categoria Silver Class e está entre os 5% das companhias aéreas com melhor desempenho em Sustentabilidade no mundo.

Das mais de 7 mil empresas avaliadas, apenas as 630 com maior pontuação foram selecionadas para o anuário. Destas, apenas 280 foram reconhecidas em algumas das seguintes categorias: Gold Class, Silver Class, Bronze Class e Industry Mover.

“Este resultado é um reconhecimento do trabalho que nossas equipes LATAM vêm construindo nos últimos anos. Vemos isso apenas como um começo. Como Grupo, temos a firme intenção de fazer da aviação uma indústria sustentável com a urgência que sentimos que o planeta precisa ”, afirma Roberto Alvo, CEO do Grupo LATAM Airlines.

O anuário reúne as companhias com as melhores práticas ambientais, sociais e de governança corporativa do mundo, classificadas e listadas no DJSI, o principal e mais respeitado índice de investimento sustentável do mundo. Em 2020, a LATAM teve uma gestão de destaque nas seguintes áreas: Gestão de Marca e Gestão de Riscos e Crises, Relatório de Indicadores Ambientais e Estratégia Climática. Também se destacou no Relatório de Desenvolvimento de Capital Humano e Indicadores Sociais, entre outros.

Edmonton Airport: WeFaces Technology to open solar facility at Airport City

Edmonton International Airport announced (17-Feb-2021) solar LED manufacturer WeFaces Technology will establish a sustainability campus at the Airport City.

The facility supports the airport's commitment to energy diversification and will include research and development as well as the mass production of advanced solar panel lighting systems.

By 2022 the company will begin manufacturing Canadian made solar lighting products for international export from the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. [more - original PR]

Original report: New Solar manufacturer to set up at EIA

WeFaces Technology Inc. to develop and manufacture advanced solar products at Alberta Aerospace and Technology Centre

Asia-based solar LED manufacturer WeFaces Technology Inc. will build its new North American headquarters within the sustainability campus at Edmonton International Airport’s growing Airport City. The new facility bolsters the airport’s commitment to energy diversification and job creation.

EIA has entered a strategic partnership to help WeFaces begin research and development as well as the mass production of advanced solar panel lighting systems. WeFaces will set up offices as well as a product showcase area at EIA by fall 2021 and immediately begin research and development work. By 2022 the company will begin manufacturing Canadian made solar lighting products for international export from the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. This private partnership will generate long-term jobs, drive advanced solar panel manufacturing opportunities, diversify and grow Alberta’s economy.

“We’re committed to helping grow Alberta’s economy with strategic partners such as WeFaces Technology. This is a long-term approach to creating jobs and attracting investment to the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. Our focus on innovation and technology developments, along with transportation partners, tourism and entertainment are making Airport City a major place to do business and invest in this region.”

Tom Ruth, EIA President and CEO

“Collaboration with EIA will enable us to quickly develop our solar energy and intelligent control technologies and expand in the global market.”

- Vilens Lin, CEO of “WeFaces Technology Inc. & Vilens Group Co. Ltd.

By locating at Airport City, WeFaces will tap into other opportunities made possible by partners such as Edmonton Global and other businesses who use the existing Foreign Trade Zone. In addition to its air cargo services, Airport City offers close access to rail transportation and the North American CANAMEX highway corridor. This helps both for supply chain imports and exports. WeFaces will also join the EIA-sponsored Alberta Aerospace and Technology Centre, a business and technology incubator located in Airport City, to participate in industry partnerships around solar technology.

“On behalf of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, we are excited to welcome WeFaces Technology Inc. to our community. The combination of WeFaces Technology Inc.’s North American Head Office and major solar and lighting manufacturing facility will have a significant impact on our regional economy. We worked closely with EIA on attracting this important investment. EIA is becoming known as Canada’s Innovation Airport in part due to their innovative approach to attracting international investment and businesses to our region – well done!”

-Malcolm Bruce, CEO Edmonton Global

"Alberta abounds with sunny days and opportunities to improve energy efficiency. With rapid increases in investment in both solar energy and efficiency in recent years, we know that the economic opportunities from these technologies will continue to grow in leaps and bounds. As such, the value chain that feeds into these investments will continue to expand, meaning new jobs and business opportunities for Albertans. This collaboration between WeFaces and EIA is an exciting initiative to grasp these opportunities for the region."

- Heather MacKenzie, Executive Director, Solar Alberta

This development will be the second major solar-power related investment at EIA, following the announcement this past summer of Airport City Solar. The two projects are unrelated to each other but represent EIA’s commitment to fostering growth and diversity in the energy sector.

Clean Sky makes progress with PERF-AI, using AI to optimise flight trajectories and reduce emissions

Clear Sky announced (11-Feb-2021) the PERF-AI project has developed a fully functional prototype that analyses historical flight data to generate accurate performance models of individual aircraft.

Taking into account specific differences that arise in an aircraft's lifetime and impact on their individual performance, the software generates a more tailored, accurate performance model that can then be used to calculate flight trajectories that are optimised for fuel efficiency.

The technology also suggests more efficient flight trajectories, supporting pilots to make more eco-conscious decisions.

In some cases, PERF-AI reported a reduction of 500kg of carbon dioxide emissions for a medium haul flight of two hours, representing up to 2%-5% of cruise consumption. [more - original PR]

Original report: PERF-AI optimises flight trajectories and reduces emissions with artificial intelligence

The PERF-AI project has developed a fully functional prototype that analyses historical flight data to generate accurate performance models of individual aircraft. 

Taking into account specific differences that arise in an aircraft’s lifetime and impact on their individual performance (such as ageing engines, modifications to aircraft structure etc), the software generates a more tailored, accurate performance model that can then be used to calculate flight trajectories that are optimised for fuel efficiency. 

The data that’s collected can be used to inform flight crews with more accurate estimates of how much fuel they’ll need. Carrying less fuel on board means less weight, so less fuel burn. The technology also suggests more efficient flight trajectories, supporting pilots to make more eco-conscious decisions. In some cases, PERF-AI reported a reduction of 500 kg of carbon dioxide emissions for a medium-haul flight of two hours, representing up to 2-5% of cruise consumption. 

The project started by collecting and setting up a large enough flight data set, then several machine learning algorithms were developed and tested to select the most relevant. Finally, a standalone application was built that can use any type of aircraft data and provide corresponding performance tables. In parallel, new types of optimisation techniques based on machine learning were also explored.

An impressive number of flights were analysed to create the dataset – 17000 flights for B737-800 type aircraft and 25000 flights on A320

Despite the huge amount of data processed, the prototype doesn’t require particularly powerful computers, meaning it can be used not only to calculate optimum trajectories before flight but could also be used in the future to re-calculate during flight. It was tested on two different aircraft types, and demonstrated very good initial results. 

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the project, however. Some of the information that needed to be extracted from the data was not present among the available parameters. A workaround was needed and the use of flight dynamics was used to compute the missing elements.

One research paper has already been published in Data Centric Engineering Review from Cambridge University, and a second one has been submitted. 

Discussions are ongoing regarding how to exploit the results of the project in a commercial form. The results of the optimisation are currently being tested with Transavia France.  

The partners of the project were Safety Line, a Paris based SME, and INRIA Lille a research centre specialised in Machine Learning. The Topic manager was Thales Avionics and two airlines were represented at the advisory board: Transavia France and Lufthansa. Altogether, €705 000 was invested in PERF-AI, with €568550 coming from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 funding under Clean Sky.

SAP Concur: Nearly half of corporate travellers lack information on sustainability in travel

SAP Concur reported (15-Feb-2021) its 'Solving the Puzzle of Sustainable Corporate Travel' survey report found that while 85% of corporate travellers felt they had control over their arrangements, almost half (46%) said they lacked the information needed to make an educated choice about the relative sustainability merits of different booking options.

39% of individuals say the sustainability of their corporate travel has never even occurred to them.

The survey identified the three most impactful awareness activities to change traveller behaviour as the offering of incentives (25%), formal training and education (24%), plus a role for 'Sustainable Travel Ambassadors' (13%). [more - original PR]

Original report: Empowering Employees to Make Sustainable Corporate Travel Decisions

With accelerated climate action rising up the business agenda, sustainable corporate travel was already a hot topic prior to COVID-19, but it seems especially important in a post-pandemic world.

In response, we ran a roundtable webinar on Empowering Employees to Make Sustainable Corporate Travel Decisions on January 27, hosted by VP of Global Solution Consulting at SAP Concur Eric Webb. He was joined by a panel of leading voices from across the wider sustainable travel community, including Global Travel Category Manager at BNP Paribas Viviane Wolf, Senior Manager Travel and Reporting with Facebook Eric Rhode, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Lufthansa Annette Mann, and Partner at EY Seema Farazi.

First and foremost, sustainability is now a consideration for all parts of a business and at organizations such as Facebook it comes with policies and performance targets to match.

Eric explained: “We have been tracking and reporting on greenhouse-gas emissions for some years now. However, with our company's recent announcement of a net-zero 2030 goal, plus corporate travel-specific details to be publicly announced later this quarter, this has become a much bigger focus area for our team.”

In banking, as in tech, sustainability has become part of the daily routine, Viviane agreed. “In my daily job, I see sustainability getting more and more important. And, in procurement, the target is not only now to reach savings, but also to help our company transition to more sustainable travel,” she said.

The greatest assets of a business, though, are still its employees and so placing them at the centre of sustainable travel policy is critical to addressing environmental concerns.

This was why the recent SAP Concur research report Solving the Puzzle of Sustainable Corporate Travel adopted the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit as its defining metric. In total, we surveyed not only 2,450 corporate travel decision-makers, but a further 2,000 corporate travellers too. The results therefore captured both the professional perspective and the user experience.

Information is power

Fundamental to any notion of empowerment is the issue of control. Therefore, it was a concern to learn from the survey that while 85% of corporate travellers felt they had control over their arrangements, almost half (46%) said they lacked the information needed to make an educated choice about the relative sustainability merits of different booking options.

Taking onboard the views of the corporate travellers themselves is crucial to success, said Viviane. “I think the figures here are really interesting because it shows that travellers have the control, but they are missing information on sustainability. Travellers today get really confused during the booking process. They have to make a decision between the schedule, the price, the airline, the sustainability and so on. I think they really get lost and need guidance here, and maybe HR or CSR could help with that,” she said.

In fact, one of the learnings to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is around the need for greater corporate agility and flexibility regarding collaboration between multiple teams and departments, Seema suggested.

“I think part of the challenge is that there are a number of stakeholders involved in corporate travel within a business so HR, mobility, immigration, tax, social security, and the stakeholders are often using different tech or different data. And those data silos have meant that integration has historically been quite challenging. But to some extent, the pandemic has really kickstarted that integration journey,” she said.

Changing behaviours and attitudes

When it comes to shifting behaviours, the survey identified the three most impactful awareness activities as the offering of incentives (25%), closely followed by formal training and education (24%), plus a role for Sustainable Travel Ambassadors (13%). The survey statistic that gave the panel pause, however, was that 39% of individuals say the sustainability of their corporate travel has never even occurred to them.

For Eric, while there are a lot of challenges, there are also many opportunities. “There’s work we can do whether it's aligning incentives or improved vetting and normalization of emissions data. Key opportunities here might include developing new progressive metrics that better reflect the balance of experience, productivity and sustainability,” he said.

HR as sustainability change-agents

Exploring opportunities for HR to become more engaged, the panel were interested to learn what the most motivating incentives might be for getting corporate travellers focused on sustainability. While options to carbon offset topped the list with 48%, tied in joint second place with financial incentives were better hospitality options, plus opportunity to celebrate and share success and best practices (47%).

On sustainability, corporate values matter to staff, especially younger hires, Annette explained. “We do a once-a-year feedback study with all our employees and the people are really asking for us to become more sustainable as an airline company. Nobody wants to be ashamed to work for Lufthansa Group because everyone is thinking ‘Oh, you're like, yeah, the bad CO2 guys’,” she said.

Therefore, while it is valuable for all concerned to be seen to be green, credibility is key, she added. “Many travellers are suspicious about whether this is greenwashing or if it's really making a difference. So it’s really important for corporates, but also for airlines, to make this more transparent,” said Annette.

In all this, success is a combination of communication and culture. “It really starts at the top with leadership defining social purpose and articulating policies and goals, and then, of course, the practical steps you’re taking,” said Seema. “Ultimately, you're asking people to break habits. Explaining that rationale means people understand the positive contribution they're making. Once they understand, you foster the kind of culture around social purpose and the rest starts to fall into place.”

Sustainability: if not now, when?

Taking the pandemic as an opportunity to reset, corporate travel is facing a period of transition. In conclusion, then, the panel talked of a seismic realignment of value in prospect, with 2020 having waved goodbye to some of the old ways and much corporate excess.

The question is: Can sustainability become part of the new normal?

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