InfoTravelRomania: - Travel Daily News: The aviation industry is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide with millions of flights to take place around the world each year. What is the aviation industry’s contribution to climate change?
Philippe De Saint Aulaire - Airbus: An expert in the manufacture of energy efficient planes and Head of Environmental Affairs in Airbus, analyzes in TravelDailyNews the aviation industry’s policies for the environment, the enviro.aero initiative as well as the new technological achievements towards a greener aviation industry.
The UN’s IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) states that aviation CO2 emissions contribute to 2% of man-made emissions today. While the impact on climate of other emissions -NOx, contrails, water vapor… is not yet fully understood, the aggregated effects of CO2 and other emissions from aviation is thought to represent 3.5% of the total anthropogenic radioactive forcing.
InfoTravelRomania: - Travel Daily News: What are the industry’s policies to mitigate this contribution ?
Philippe De Saint Aulaire - Airbus: In the aviation sector, environment and economics simply go hand-in-hand.
CO2 emissions are proportionally linked to fuel burn. Since fuel is one of the most significant airline direct operating costs, minimizing fuel-burn (therefore emissions) is a business imperative. Hence, the core business of aircraft and engine manufacturers is to build aircraft that consume the lowest fuel while carrying the maximum payload.
The whole sector is actually mobilized to meet the environmental challenge:
- Airlines with the way they are operating and managing their fleet
- Air Transport Management (ATM) organizations with the way they are streamlining the traffic
- Airports with the way they are carrying operations on the ground
- Aircraft and engine manufacturers with the way they are improving the aircraft itself.
In order to keep progressing at a fast pace, Airbus is fully committed to working towards the Vision 2020 of the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE). Achieving these ambitious environmental objectives relies on the combined efforts of key industry players. Through reductions from engine and airframes, as well as through operating procedures, ACARE aims to achieve the following targets by 2020 (compared to the standard aircraft and operating conditions of 2000):
50 per cent reduction in fuel consumption and associated carbon dioxide emissions,
80 per cent reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions,
50 per cent reduction in perceived noise.
InfoTravelRomania: - Travel Daily News: How can the aviation industry be a part of the European Union’s efforts for low CO2?
Philippe De Saint Aulaire - Airbus: Emissions trading can be one approach. But from an industry point of view, buying emission rights cannot be the ultimate solution.
Key to progress in the environment is and remains technology. We need an acceleration of technology development and implementation.
The role of European governments is critical in speeding up the European Single Sky initiative, which Airbus strongly supports. Optimizing air traffic management and flight efficiency will save millions of tons of CO2 emissions per year. The SESAR program will lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions of 10 percent in Europe alone when it is implemented.
The role of the European Union is also critical in supporting the industry’s environmental efforts through aggressive R&T funding and programs, such as the Clean Sky technology program.
InfoTravelRomania: - Travel Daily News: The Kyoto protocol, especially with US government’s negative position towards it, doesn’t seem to bear fruits and ICAO efforts have limited positive impact on carbon emissions so far. Do you feel that there is a need for a more effective legal framework to be implemented, and how crucial is the compliance of all governments to these efforts?
Philippe De Saint Aulaire - Airbus: To be economically fair and environmentally efficient, any emissions trading scheme aimed at addressing a global issue like climate change must be defined and accepted on a global scale. Airbus supports the work that is currently being undertaken at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to finding the right approach and deliver a globally acceptable solution. Since ICAO is the United Nations agency in charge of codifying the principles of international air transport, and comprising 190 contracting States, it is the most legitimate to ensure all governments are taken on-board.
Carbon pricing instruments are actually only one pillar of a global strategy towards the long-term vision of a zero emissions air transport industry. Other key pillars include fleet and engine renewal (new technologies), operations and carbon-less fuels.
InfoTravelRomania: - Travel Daily News: Is it possible for energy-efficient and more “green” aircrafts to be constructed or is this just a myth?
Philippe De Saint Aulaire - Airbus: It’s not at all a myth. One could even say it is the history of aviation so far, which has been able to cut average aircraft fuel-consumption per seat by 70% over the last decades and to achieve other dramatic gains in terms of noise. This is no myth because most of the time, these evolutions have been in the natural interest of manufacturers and their clients.
Going further is, of course, not an easy task since it requires increasingly advanced technologies. Our engineers are continuously striving to identify and foster any opportunity for improvement in the areas of aerodynamics, structure, systems, engines and aircraft configurations. Flights physics and safety constraints obviously impose limits to what can be done. For instance, even if manufacturers have been able so far to simultaneously reduce noise and fuel-burn, we are now coming to a point where trade-offs decisions regarding emissions and noise, and among emissions themselves, could start to appear.
But since we see technology just as a means, we are actively listening to our stakeholders’ expectations in order to make the optimal technological choices within these trade-offs. And it is clear these must always result in an improvement of aircraft overall environmental performance. We simply believe there is no other alternative for the future than building eco-efficient aircraft.
InfoTravelRomania: Travel Daily News: What is Airbus policy on emissions and what have you done in this area so far? What are the “green” construction standards for the new superjumbo A380? Is it really environmentally friendly and in what way?
Philippe De Saint Aulaire - Airbus: Airbus is the first jetliner manufacturer to be certified to international environmental standards ISO 14001, for full lifecycle coverage, including all products and manufacturing plants. Airbus is committed to keep improving its environmental performance with ISO 14001 – embracing the life cycle approach so that we continue to create value but with less impact.
For our industrial and manufacturing operations, by 2020, we are targeting at least a 30% reduction in energy consumption and 50% reduction in CO2 emissions – despite the growth ahead of us.
Airbus is obviously setting new environmental standards with the A380. The A380 has been a catalyst for innovative new technologies and a new way of working together across the industry. Environment has been at the heart of this aircraft’s design. Environmental management has also been a major criterion for the A380 production facilities, optimising energy and water consumption, as well as waste and emissions. Moreover, the A380 static test airframe will be used as part of a project to test procedures for managing the end-of-life of aircraft in the most environmentally responsible way. It will be the first time that an aircraft in pre-service testing has been taken through to the very end of its life.
When flying, the A380 is the best aircraft in its class. The A380 burns 17 per cent less fuel per seat than today`s largest aircraft. Low fuel burn means low CO2 emissions. In fact, the A380 produces only 75g of CO2 per passenger and per km, almost half of the target set by the European Union for cars manufactured in 2008.
Low-noise characteristics have been another major design driver for the A380. As a result, the aircraft is significantly quieter than other large aircraft and offers substantial margins in relation to the latest (ICAO Stage 4) noise limits.
The A380 is not only cleaner and quieter, it is also the smartest way to cope with air traffic growth. Thanks to its high capacity, the A380 is making the most of the world’s current valuable airport space, thus reducing the need to expand existing resources and flights. No other high capacity aircraft can fly so many people such distances with so little environmental impact.
InfoTravelRomania: - Travel Daily News: What are the latest technological developments in the commercial aviation industry and how can better air traffic management help the environment?
Philippe De Saint Aulaire - Airbus: The latest technological development in the commercial aviation industry have most notably happened in the following areas:
- Advanced materials resulting in lighter structures;
- Improved aerodynamics;
- High by-pass ratio engines.
Improved operational performance. More advanced flight systems and improved ATM are for instance enabling to optimize aircraft trajectories for lower noise and emissions.
Indeed, better Air Traffic Management is a key lever to environmental progress of aviation. This goes from optimizing routes to streamlining traffic, avoiding congestion and delays and ensuring proper management gate to gate.
InfoTravelRomania: - Travel Daily News: What is the enviro.aero initiative and why did the commercial aviation industry take this step? What are your targets and expectations from the initiative?
Philippe De Saint Aulaire - Airbus: The Enviro.aero initiative is a way to inform the public on aviation’s environmental actions. Enviro.aero is to us a major step in the development of a coordinated, cross-industry response to the increasing environmental demands and expectations. We want to make the environmental records and objectives of aviation known in a fair and transparent manner. We want to maintain an open dialogue between the world of aviation at large and the general public.
By providing access to an environmental website as well as the possibility to interact directly with the industry’s environmental experts, we generally hope to promote a better understanding of our sector’s key issues and initiatives.
InfoTravelRomania: - Travel Daily News: Will lower carbon emissions lead to higher operational cost for airlines and if yes, how will this affect the industry and the passenger traffic?
Philippe De Saint Aulaire - Airbus: Today, airlines are paying for their fuel. Depending on fleets, fuel represents an average 20%-30% of airlines direct operating costs. As stated, carbon emissions are directly linked to fuel-burn. So by reducing fuel consumption, which they are extremely incited to do, airlines are always reducing both their operational costs and carbon emissions.
Tomorrow, if aviation becomes part of an emissions trading scheme, they will have in addition to pay for their CO2 emissions. The impact on freight and passenger traffic will depend on the cost of a ton of CO2.
Let’s not forget that air transport is a very competitive business, which has gone into a series of crisis and major restructuring. Market distortions may have great implications on airlines’ finances and competitive position. This is why it is strongly recommended that the inclusion of aviation in any market-based instrument for trading CO2 emissions be done in the frame of a global solution defined and accepted by the international community through ICAO.
InfoTravelRomania: - Travel Daily News: Aviation-Environment: What does the future hold for these two?
Philippe De Saint Aulaire - Airbus: The role of aviation is key to society’s future. Improving environment is mostly in line with improving aircraft performance. We believe we can bring new technical solutions, which will allow aviation to grow and bring the benefits expected by society while reducing its impact on environment.
To find out more information about how flying affects the environment and to see how the aviation industry are working to reduce these impacts, go to www.enviro.aero
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