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Tech, biofuels can make aviation sustainable, environment friendly

October 01, 2021 / 02:43 PM IST

The coronavirus outbreak has changed the way we work, travel and consume. The “new normal” now also dictates free movement across borders, which puts the aviation industry at the forefront of change.

Aviation industry’s carbon footprint

The aviation industry is responsible for 12 percent of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. That said, it has grown to be one of the biggest contributors to economic and commercial growth by bringing the world closer.

When these benefits are weighed against environmental concerns, a compromise is called for. Sustainability and environmental health can no longer be put on hold. Does aviation have other options?



The industry has come a long way since the 1990s. These days, aircraft are more fuel-efficient— by 80 percent, no less.

Companies worldwide invest roughly $15 billion every year, researching for better and cleaner technologies and this has helped improve the fuel efficiency of modern aircraft.

The word on the street is that much like the electric car revolution, the world may soon be jet-setting in electrically powered aircraft on short routes.

Growing environmental awareness 

To recognise and act upon the aviation industry’s impact on climate change, the International Civil Aviation Organisation has established CO2 emission standards that all modern aircraft have to follow.

On the fuel front, too, the industry has been experimenting since 2008, when the first biofuel-based test flight was run. Ever since the fuel was certified for use by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), it has been used in blended form with jet fuel since 2011, reducing the carbon footprint of each flight.

According to statistics, by 2025, 2 percent of the aviation fuel demand is projected to be met by sustainable alternatives, which is excellent news for the sustainability equation in the skies.

It is underscored by the fact that the global aviation industry has 6 billion litres worth of sustainable fuel promised in forward purchase agreements.

What more can be done?

Apart from improving efficiencies on technological and fuel aspects, there is a need to revamp operational practices as well.

Reducing a single minute of flying time per flight can save 100 kilograms of emissions. This calls for airports to overhaul aircraft circulation and traffic management to limit flight time.

While the aviation industry is still on all fours and recovering from the pandemic, the fact that emission levels dipped drastically due to a halt in flight operations remains in the limelight. To help the environment stay healthy, the aviation industry must also embrace the “new normal”—much like the rest of the world.
Tags: #Features
first published: Oct 1, 2021 02:43 pm

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