Oct. 19, 2022

Five OEM leaders gathered Wednesday at the 2022 NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) in Orlando, FL, to discuss achievements, goals and challenges as civil aviation begins to map out plans on how the industry will achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The panel, moderated by NBAA Board Member Kali Hague, identified several areas that need to be focused on to achieve the 2050 deadline, including education, communication and collaboration with regulators and other OEMs.

Earlier this month the International Civil Aviation Organization announced its commitment for global civil aviation operations to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. NBAA made its own 2050 net-zero emissions pledge last year.

All five panelists said their companies have already achieved initial successes by building energy-saving efficiencies within existing infrastructure, and integrating sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) into emerging turbine engine products. Many OEMs, including Bombardier, are using book-and-claim systems to reduce their carbon footprint. In a book-and-claim system, customers buy SAF to fuel aircraft owned by other operators.

“Monday, we announced that we will be using SAF in all our delivery and test flights,” said Bombardier Senior Advisor, Industry Affairs Bruce Parry. “But we’re going to use book and claim rather than physical fuel.”

While these successes are significant, panelists said it would be the next steps on the road to 2050 that will require the heavy lifting. Much of those challenges, they said, call for greater collaboration.

“The appetite to innovate and collaborate is huge,” said Embraer Director, Product Strategy and Competitive Intelligence Alvadi Serpa Jr. But turning that appetite into reality will be key to reaching 2050 goals.

“It’s going to require closer collaboration between the aircraft OEMs and the engine OEMs,” said panelist Rob Scholl, president and CEO at Textron eAviation. “Because when you start getting into the further advanced technology of hybrid-electric and hydrogen fuels, you begin to need to customize the airframe to the propulsion system.”

Panelists agreed that another challenge that needs to be solved is achieving closer collaboration with regulators on certification requirements and manufacturing standards for new products.

Leda Chong, Gulfstream senior vice president, government programs and sales, specifically mentioned that “getting alignment through agreement on standards has been “one of the biggest challenges.”

Although there are many existing aircraft design concepts that could go a long way toward helping the industry reach net-zero, OEMs are forced to balance engineering capabilities with market forces.

“We could do something which is very different, which is an airplane with a very long [wingspan] and then you could consume 30% less fuel but the speed would not be the same,” said Carlos Brana, Dassault executive vice president, civil aircraft. “Most probably the users would not accept that speed. We are dealing with a market and the market accepts, or does not accept.”

While OEMs figure out the next innovative platforms that will take the industry over the 2050 finish line, panelists recommended going for small wins, putting a strong focus on education and developing a large, talented and effective workforce that will be trained to take the baton when they’re ready.

The road to 2050 represents a commitment that the companies represented on the panel are taking seriously.

‘We’ve all worked together to understand that commitment, so we know what we have to do,” Brana said. “It can be done. It will be done.”

Any person who attends an NBAA convention, conference, seminar or other program grants permission to NBAA, its employees and agents (collectively "NBAA") to record his or her visual/audio images, including, but not limited to, photographs, digital images, voices, sound or video recordings, audio clips, or accompanying written descriptions, and, without notifying such person, to use his or her name and such images for any purpose of NBAA, including advertisements for NBAA and its programs.

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