March 21, 2016
NBAA has always recognized that environmental stewardship is an imperative for general aviation, even though aviation accounts for less than two percent of total global CO2 emissions and GA is responsible for only a small percentage of aviation emissions. The association has long advocated for reasonable and balanced policies that support the industry’s twin goals of promoting the mobility and growth of business aviation while minimizing its environmental footprint.
Now, as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) moves toward establishing a global aircraft-emissions policy, NBAA continues to represent the industry’s interests in this area. In February, ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP), which was tasked with developing certification requirements for a global CO2 standard for aircraft, developed recommendations on emissions targets, an implementation schedule, and monitoring and verification measures. Operators and NBAA staff worked with officials from the International Business Aircraft Council (IBAC), which is an observer at CAEP, to provide important technical and economic data for aviation policymakers ahead of ICAO’s 39th Assembly, which is scheduled to take place from Sept. 27 to Oct. 7. That is where a new global aircraft-emissions policy will likely be formulated.
The stated goal is carbon-neutral growth by 2020 using various techniques: more-efficient air traffic management, development of sustainable alternative fuels and improved propulsion technology, and greater use of winglets and lightweight aircraft structures.
Steve Brown, NBAA’s chief operating officer, says the current debate boils down to different viewpoints regarding what is practical. “Green” interests are seeking a two-percent annual reduction in aircraft emissions. The aviation community believes that a one-percent improvement is more technically and economically feasible.
We are now “debating the art of the possible,” says Brown, who adds, “We in aviation care about the environment, and we also care about economic growth. We need to measure aircraft emissions accurately and engineer new technology in an affordable fashion.”
We in aviation care about the environment, and we also care about economic growth. We need to measure aircraft emissions accurately and engineer new technology in an affordable fashion.
What does this mean for operators? Brown is cautiously optimistic that ICAO will develop a workable standard. “All the right expertise is at the table, working on a path forward.” No retrofit requirements are anticipated now, smaller aircraft may be exempt, and most in-production aircraft will likely meet the proposed standard, he added.
“The quest for the lowest possible fuel-burning aircraft has been around since the Wright brothers,” concluded Brown. “Reduced fuel burn is so attractive – because it makes economic sense – that operators will seek to fly the most efficient aircraft.”
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2016 issue of Business Aviation Insider.