Oct. 31, 2014

Every industry is considering the impact of its activities on the environment, and business aviation has always had a solid record in this area.

While minimizing noise and emissions has been an important focus, there are many other areas where sustainability makes both environmental and economic sense, according to Christa Fornarotto, NBAA’s vice president, government affairs, who will discuss the steps taken by industry in mitigating its environmental footprint at the 7th annual Airports Going Green Conference in Chicago on Nov. 3.

Although aviation emissions are only a tiny fraction of all transportation emissions, and business aircraft emissions are a small portion of those, the industry has continually leveraged technology to minimize emissions, while improving safety and efficiency.

For example, the industry pioneered winglets for aircraft, which optimize aircraft performance and flight range, and contribute to a more efficient fuel burn, thereby reducing emissions. This equipment is now in place on a large number of general aviation and commercial aircraft. In addition, the industry continues to reduce engine emissions by applying new technologies, which means that today’s aircraft engines are cleaner, quieter and more fuel-efficient than ever.

These market-driven successes can be replicated in the policy arena, Fornarotto said. “Sustainability for us is bringing about reasonable and balanced policies that promote the mobility and efficiency of business aviation while at the same time minimizing our environmental footprint,” said Fornarotto, who will participate in a panel discussion titled, “Sustainability at the National Organization Level” during the conference.

In addition to promoting manufacturers’ introductions of ever-cleaner and quieter engines, and advocating for the industry on emissions-reduction policy proposals, Fornarotto noted that NBAA is also working with the FAA and others to promote an understanding of how the introduction of smarter operational procedures as part of the NextGen air traffic system can also have an environmental benefit. “We can make sure that NextGen includes more direct routing, which produces efficiency gains, while also providing an emissions benefit,” said Fornarotto.

The Airports Going Green Conference, which runs through Nov. 5, is the industry’s leading sustainability forum, bringing together aviation sustainability leaders, experts and innovators from around the world. Topics being addressed include airport, tenant and stakeholder collaboration strategies; innovations in renewable energy and alternative fuels; waste and recycling initiatives; and emerging technologies.

In her previous position as FAA’s associate administrator for airports, Fornarotto was instrumental in bringing sustainability issues to the forefront. “Even the simplest thing, such as a recycling program at an airport, makes a difference. Sustainability is a win-win for everyone – it save airports money, and does it in a green way,” she said.

Review NBAA’s environmental policy.