Oct. 11, 2022

The inaugural webinar in a complimentary NBAA series designed specifically for Certified Aviation Managers (CAMs) took a detailed look at the broad array of technologies and approaches the business aviation community can consider on its journey to net-zero emissions by 2050.

The CAM Ambassador Webinar series is an opportunity to learn from CAM Ambassadors about the latest developments and future possibilities in business aviation. Current CAMs also will receive a one-quarter point toward recertification for attending each free, live program.

The first webinar, Leadership Through Innovation, featured Airbus Commercial and International Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing Stan Shparberg, and Airbus Americas Vice President of Research and Technology Amanda Simpson, who provided insights into sustainability and research programs aimed at reducing aviation emissions.

Aviation has achieved significant advances in sustainability, but there are still challenges to meeting the industry’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, said Simpson. She explained that these challenges would be overcome by innovations in airframes, the development of new technologies, new approaches to operations and infrastructure, the use of more sustainable fuels and offsetting.

Simpson also noted that the net zero goal for Airbus is not simply about decarbonization. Instead, the company considers net zero the reduction and elimination of all greenhouse gas emissions.

“We’ve made a lot of progress in the 50 years that Airbus has been in existence, and we are 50% toward that net-zero goal. But that was the easy part<’ Simpson said. “We’ve optimized our dynamics, used new materials that are lighter and always are advancing engine technologies, but the next 50% is going to be the hard part.”

Automation of air and ground operations will be a crucial factor in sustainability, as it will ensure that every flight is optimized not only for speed and passengers’ comfort but also for emissions and environmental sustainability, the executives noted.

Aircraft designs, too, will have to evolve, with engines optimized to burn non-petroleum-based fuels like hydrogen, current wings replaced with very high aspect ratio variants, and airframes reimagined, possibly to include blended wing designs. It is too early to say what technologies will emerge from current research, said Simpson, although she added that prototypes are already being developed, and new technologies will likely start entering service later this decade and into the mid-2030s.

“Sustainability has been a focus for Airbus for more than 50 years. Our purpose is to pioneer sustainability in aviation,” said Shparberg. “But to achieve our goals of decarbonization and net-zero emissions, it is going to take everyone working together on a lot of new activities to get there.”