Key business aviation organizations are expanding upon a global effort begun a decade ago to lessen the industry’s impact on the environment, including a new goal to achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. Industry leaders announced the stepped-up goals during a panel discussion at a media breakfast Tuesday at NBAA-BACE.
Goals established in 2009’s Business Aviation Commitment on Climate Change (BACCC)—an initiative of the International Business Aviation Council, NBAA, and General Aviation Manufacturers Association—included increasing fuel efficiency by 2 percent a year between 2010 and 2020, reducing carbon emissions 50 percent by 2050, and achieving carbon-neutral growth by 2020.
“If we look back at where we were in 2005, we were 16 metric tons in emissions,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “We had hoped to get down to eight [metric tons]. We could go all the way down to four [metric tons] and we’re driving that quickly down to zero because we are making these advances in other areas. And so, as a result of the progress that we’ve made over the past decade, as a result of the tools that we see in our toolbox…we will be carbon net-zero by 2050.”
It’s important that business aircraft manufacturers are aligned with industry goals, added Nicolas Chabbert, senior v-p of Daher’s aircraft division. “It’s probably a condition of our survival,” he said.
Besides achieving net-zero carbon emissions, another expanded goal is to continue to increase fuel efficiency by 2 percent a year between 2020 and 2030. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will play a key part in achieving those goals, even with its current price premium of about $1.40 over regular jet-A in Texas, for example. Even at that premium, “it’s not an outrageous number,” said NBAA chair Elizabeth Dornak. “It’s manageable.”
Increased production, availability, and use of SAF are key to the effort as are carbon offsets.
So are advancements in technology, with business aviation leaders pointing to winglets, aerodynamic optimization, electric and hydrogen propulsion, composites, advanced alloys, and technology plotting the most fuel-efficient routes as some of the areas where additional improvements could have an impact.
GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce said he’s confident the industry can achieve its goals knowing the analysis and science that went into a 2008 study led by Bombardier as part of the BACCC and has since been updated several times, including for the industry’s newest goals.
“The amount of science that went into this is truly impressive,” Bunce added.
Other sustainability initiatives have been put in place at BACE, including an all-new carbon offset program that will make it one of the world’s largest carbon-neutral events, according to NBAA. Additionally, nearly 100 exhibitors signed a “green pledge” to limit their environmental footprint. SAF is also available during BACE at Henderson Executive Airport and Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport. And through a book-and-claim option, inbound fights can purchase SAF even if it is not supplied at their departing airports.
“By using those tools we discussed—SAF, new propulsion systems, operations, technology, infrastructure, and market-based measures—this is our commitment today,” added Bolen.