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Aviation Sustainability and the Environment, CAPA 26-May-2022

Analysis

This regular CAPA report provides a summary of recent aviation sustainability and environment news. This latest issue features:

Frontier CEO: We will be the first to 'raise our hand' when SAF, propulsion technology is scalable

American Airlines head of ESG: 'From a climate change perspective, it really is all about jet fuel'

easyJet announces interim carbon reduction target of 35% emissions intensity by FY2023

Etihad Airways and SATAVIA collaborating to reduce non CO2 climate footprint

UK launches 10 point plan to build an innovative and sustainable aviation sector

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.

Frontier CEO: We will be the first to 'raise our hand' when SAF, propulsion technology is scalable

Frontier Airlines president and CEO Barry Biffle, speaking at the CAPA Americas Aviation & LCCs Summit, said (25-May-2022) the LCC is "really intrigued" with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and developments in propulsion technology, stating that the carrier will be "the first ones to raise our hand and say we're interested" when the technologies "are scalable and can make a difference".

Mr Biffle added: "The number one thing that could be done and started now would be to look at air traffic control. It's the number one thing we could do in the next 10 years to improve emissions in our industry".

American Airlines head of ESG: 'From a climate change perspective, it really is all about jet fuel'

American Airlines MD and head of environmental, social and governance Jill Blickstein, speaking at the CAPA Americas Aviation & LCCs Summit, stated (25-May-2022) "SAF has tremendous potential. It's a drop in fuel, what a gift… But when are we actually going to be able to buy the SAF? That's where I think we're going to need lots of government support and government policy".

Ms Blickstein added: "99% of our emissions come from jet fuel. From a climate change perspective, it really is all about jet fuel".

easyJet announces interim carbon reduction target of 35% emissions intensity by FY2023

easyJet announced (19-May-2022) an interim carbon reduction target of a 35% carbon emissions intensity improvement by FY2035, as part of its commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The target aligns with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and has been sent to SBTi for validation.

The LCC plans to achieve the target through a combination of fleet renewal, operational improvements and efficiencies, airspace modernisation and the use of sustainable aviation fuel. [more - original PR]

Original report: easyJet announces interim science-based carbon reduction target “35% by 35”

  • The airline is setting an interim target of a 35% carbon emissions intensity improvement by 2035 as part of its commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • The carbon reduction pathway is aligned with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)
  • It will be achieved through a combination of fleet renewal, operational improvements and efficiencies, airspace modernisation and the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Following easyJet joining the UN-backed Race to Zero campaign in November last year and commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the airline is today announcing its interim carbon reduction target, a 35% carbon emissions intensity improvement by FY2035 on a FY2020 baseline. Since 2000, over a 20-year period, easyJet has already reduced its carbon emissions per passenger, per kilometre by over one-third.

The target aligns with the Science-Based Targets (SBT) sectoral decarbonisation pathway and has been submitted to the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) for validation. The SBTi is a partnership between CDP, the United Nations Global Compact, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which guides companies on their decarbonisation journeys, in line with the Paris Agreement. easyJet worked as part of the Technical Working Group (TWG) of dedicated experts from industry and NGOs who provided detailed input during the planning phase and on various drafts of the guidance and tool.

SBTi requires airlines to decarbonise within their own operation, thus not using out-of-sector carbon offsetting or other market-based mechanisms such as ETS (Emissions Trading System). 

 The airline plans to achieve this ambitious target through a combination of fleet renewal, operational improvements and efficiencies, airspace modernisation and the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel:

  • Fleet renewal: easyJet has one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient narrow body jet fleets operating in Europe and is the second largest single brand operator of A320neo family aircraft in Europe. All new aircraft deliveries between FY’22 and FY’28 will be Airbus NEO aircraft. They are at least 15% more fuel efficient than the aircraft they replace and provide a 50% noise reduction. Switching to more fuel-efficient current generation aircraft as well as upgauging to larger aircraft has a significant impact to reduce carbon emissions in the short term due to higher absolute fuel efficiency and lower emissions per seat.
  • Operational improvements and efficiencies: easyJet continues to operate its aircraft as efficiently as possible and is always looking for efficiency improvements. This includes adjusting standard operating procedures, which helps to reduce fuel usage and therefore carbon emissions, for example single-engine taxiing on arrival and departure, using advanced weather information to improve navigation performance or engine washing to remove debris, which improves the air turbine performance. The airline is also using new software and AI to identify further operational efficiencies. This is complemented by flight efficiency partnerships with key stakeholders such as AirbusCollins AerospaceNATS and Eurocontrol
  • Airspace modernisation: This is crucial for the entire industry as it is the most achievable source of reductions right now as more direct flight paths lead to shorter flying times. easyJet is working with stakeholders and public authorities in order to make progress on the modernisation of airspace, including projects such as the Single European Sky. These are necessary for a more environmentally-optimised and efficient air traffic management system. The Single European Sky has stated an ambition to deliver 10% carbon emissions savings from European aviation.
  • Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF): easyJet will use SAF at scale in the interim in order to achieve material lifecycle carbon emissions reductions in comparison to kerosene. There are a number of proven production pathways which can produce SAF from a wide range of feedstocks, from municipal solid waste to used cooking oils.

The airline is currently also finalising its roadmap to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. From 2035 onwards, zero carbon emission technology is expected to play a key role and easyJet is working with partners across the industry, including Airbus, Rolls-Royce, GKN Aerospace, Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and Wright Electric, on several dedicated projects to accelerate the development of zero carbon emission aircraft technology. This is a cross-industry effort and as a significant European airline easyJet not only provides the airline and customer perspective to its  partners but also demonstrates to aircraft manufacturers that there is airline demand for zero carbon emission aircraft.

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet said:

“Decarbonising aviation is the challenge of a generation, but we know it can and must be done. We have now embarked on our journey to net-zero and while there will be challenges along the way, I’m really excited about what lies ahead. It is on us to protect the benefits of aviation for generations to come, while at the same time ensure we do all possible to protect our planet for them.”

Sustainability is a holistic issue, so in addition to directly addressing our carbon emissions from flying, we are also mitigating the broader environmental impact from our operations. This includes:

  • Eliminating  more than 36 million single-use plastic items used on our flights and continuing to ensure that any residual waste is recycled as much as possible, while always looking for more ways to take action. 
  •  The introduction of new crew uniforms made from recycled plastic bottles. Forty-five bottles go into each uniform – with the potential to prevent 2.7 million plastic bottles from ending up in landfill or in oceans over the next five years. The garments are fashioned from a high-tech material that is made using renewable energy sources.
  • Sustainability has been a key driver when making decisions on which suppliers easyJet works with. For its on board range easyJet selects  brands wanting to make a difference by reducing their use of plastic and their carbon emissions. To support a  drive to operate more sustainably, production of  food has been moved more locally, so the product will travel fewer miles to reach its destination, reducing its overall carbon footprint.

Etihad Airways and SATAVIA collaborating to reduce non CO2 climate footprint

Etihad Airways and SATAVIA entered (23-May-2022) a collaboration to reduce aviation's non-CO2 climate footprint by leveraging SATAVIA's DECISIONX:NETZERO platform.

The system enables aircraft operators to predict and prevent contrails.

In the week leading up to 22-Apr-2022, SATAVIA worked with Etihad to prevent aircraft contrails on 22 commercial flights, reducing the overall climate impact of the flights by at least 3250 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. [more - original PR]

Original report: Etihad Airways demonstrates how aviation can cut non-CO2 climate impact using SATAVIA’s DECISIONX technology

UK-based company SATAVIA is working with Etihad Airways to prevent aircraft contrails and reduce aviation’s climate footprint by up to 60%.

We were delighted by these Earth Day trials, demonstrating the possibility of dramatic sustainability advances in day-to-day commercial operations.”
Etihad Aviation Group CEO Tony Douglas

Etihad Airways demonstrates how aviation can cut non-CO2 climate impact using SATAVIA’s DECISIONX technology

UK-based SATAVIA is working with Etihad Airways to reduce aviation’s non-CO2 climate footprint. By leveraging best-in-class atmospheric modelling, SATAVIA’s DECISIONX:NETZERO platform enables eco-conscious aircraft operators to predict and prevent aircraft contrails, which cause surface warming equivalent to 60% of aviation’s total climate impact (or 2% of all human impact).

In the week leading up to Earth Day (22 April 2022), SATAVIA worked with Etihad to prevent aircraft contrails on 22 commercial flights, reducing the overall climate impact of the flights by at least 3,250 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). This is equivalent to eliminating 100,000 car journeys each of 50km (US emissions figures).

Building on a twelve-month partnership, the Earth Day flights saw significant climate benefit achieved by altering only a small minority (5.3%) of Etihad’s flights.

“We were delighted to see these incredible results from our Earth Day trials,” said Etihad Aviation Group CEO Tony Douglas, “demonstrating the possibility of dramatic sustainability advances in day-to-day commercial operations.”

Etihad has been running contrail prevention trials with SATAVIA since February 2022, with 50 flight plan optimisations conducted and a reduction in overall climate impact of at least 5,000 tonnes CO2e to date.

“DECISIONX:NETZERO amends only those flights with high likelihood of persistent contrail formation,” said SATAVIA CEO Dr Adam Durant. “This means the vast majority of contrail climate impact can be avoided with a minimum of effort, avoiding disruption to day-to-day flight operations.”

In the lead-up to Earth Day, Etihad flights incorporating successful contrail prevention demonstrated expected variability in avoided climate impact, ranging from tens of tonnes of CO2e to a maximum of 1,778 tonnes CO2e on a single flight from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Abu Dhabi International Airport on 21st April.

“SATAVIA also undertakes post-flight accounting for future conversion into tradable carbon offsets,” said Durant. “This new market is worth $9bn globally, at a conservative estimate, with huge potential to incentivise operators to reduce their indirect climate footprint and move the sector towards Net Zero on relatively short timescales.” 

ZeroAvia and MHIRJ to provide hydrogen-electric retrofits for regional jets

ZeroAvia expanded (25-May-2022) its agreement with MHI RJ Aviation Group (MHIRJ), under which MHIRJ will provide engineering services, aircraft integration and its OEM experience to support the certification of ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric powertrain for retrofit onto regional jets.

The services will be provided through MHIRJ's Aerospace Engineering Centre.

The agreement places the CRJ Series as a frontrunner for the earliest operations using zero emission engines.

ZeroAvia CEO Val Miftakhov stated: "There are hundreds of CRJ Series aircraft in daily operation across North America... All these flights can and should be zero-emission well before the end of this decade".

ZeroAvia expects its 600kW ZA600 powertrain for 10 to 20 seat aircraft to enter service in 2024.

The company is also working to develop the 2MW to 5MW ZA2000 for 40 to 80 seat turboprops by 2026 and the ZA2000RJ for regional jets by the late 2020s. [more - original PR]

Original report: ZeroAvia Advances Regional Jet Plans; Strikes New Agreement with MHIRJ

Hydrogen-electric propulsion pioneer will collaborate with MHIRJ engineering group to design retrofit and line fit options for Regional Jets

ZeroAvia, the leader in developing zero-emission solutions for commercial aviation, has made a big leap forward in plans to deliver hydrogen-electric engines for regional jets, thanks to an expanded agreement with MHI RJ Aviation Group (MHIRJ). As part of the collaboration, MHIRJ will provide engineering services, aircraft integration, and its industry renowned OEM experience to support the certification of ZeroAvia's hydrogen-electric powertrain for retrofit onto airframes in the regional jet markets.
 
Hydrogen-electric propulsion pioneer ZeroAvia will collaborate with MHIRJ engineering group to design retrofit and line fit options for Regional Jets.

ZeroAvia is already well advanced in plans to certify its ZA600, 600kW powertrain for smaller, 10-20 seat aircraft, with entry into service planned for 2024. Concurrently, the company is working on ZA2000, a 2-5MW modular powertrain which targets support for 40-80 seat turboprops by 2026. The ZA2000RJ powertrain will expand this technology to enable passengers to fly in zero-emission regional jets as early as the late 2020s.

This agreement places the CRJ Series aircraft as a frontrunner for the earliest operations using true zero-emission engines. Over 2,000 CRJ Series aircraft have been built since the launch of the program, effectively establishing itself as the backbone of regional aviation in the United States.

This expanded agreement follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the parties at the end of last year.

Speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos where he has been discussing the pathway to sustainable aviation, Val Miftakhov, CEO and Founder of ZeroAvia, said: "There are hundreds of CRJ Series aircraft in daily operation across North America, transporting millions of passengers. All these flights can and should be zero-emission well before the end of this decade. This agreement is a giant step forward in delivering hydrogen-electric engines to the regional jet segment."

The agreement is the first for MHIRJ's Aerospace Engineering Centre (AEC) in the hydrogen propulsion field. MHIRJ's Aerospace Engineering Centre aims to provide engineering, design and certification services to third parties using the wide expertise and experience of its engineering team.

Hiro Yamamoto, President and CEO of MHIRJ, said: "We are very excited about this agreement with ZeroAvia as it furthers two important goals for MHIRJ. The first is to continue to grow our AEC business through working with other companies and using our vast engineering expertise to advance this state-of-the art project. The second benefit is that we are part of the value chain in bringing innovative sustainable technology into the regional space."

In the last quarter of 2021, ZeroAvia secured partnerships and funding with major airlines Alaska Air Group and United Airlines to accelerate the development of its ZA2000 engine, the largest of ZeroAvia's current powertrain platforms. This announcement with MHIRJ closely follows ZeroAvia's expansion of its Hollister location in California and a deal with Shell for hydrogen supply, as well as the opening of a new facility at Paine Field in Washington State in January.

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