Dec. 3, 2020

As business aviation leaders confront climate and COVID-19 crises, the industry continues to be at the forefront of making sustainability a top priority, with new products and technologies having an appreciable impact.

The industry is engaging in multiple ways, including next-gen technologies, to make each plane, each flight and the ATC system more sustainable, said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We’ve raised awareness. Now, how do we allow demand to spur production, and production to spur demand or availability.”

Bolen spoke on a NBAA GO Virtual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (VBACE) panel about leading during a crisis, along with Matteo Atti, executive vice president of marketing and innovation, VistaJet, and Mark Masluch, director, communications and public affairs, Bombardier Aviation. The discussion was moderated by Christine Negroni, aviation journalist.

VistaJet has implemented various sustainability measures, including investing in artificial intelligence to choose the best route to curb fuel consumption, resulting in a 6-8% fuel reduction this summer, said Atti. ”I think the key is not sticking to one solution and thinking you’ve found the pot of gold at the end of it, but it’s constantly, every day, engaging with the right partners to give us an incremental improvement on everything we do,” he said.

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is having a real-world impact on Bombardier’s existing fleet, whether in new or old aircraft, added Masluch. “We don’t have to wait for a green-technology miracle that will happen in aviation in the next 20, 30 years from a product-life-cycle perspective. We have real ways to affect change today, largely through SAF.”

The panelists discussed customers’ desire for more sustainable practices, with Bolen noting that attendees wore “I Want My SAF” buttons at last year’s NBAA convention. Dan Hubbard, NBAA’s senior vice president of communications, noted the increasing number of companies setting sustainability as a top objective, and these organizations want to know more about SAF, lighter aircraft composites, more fuel-efficient engines, and interiors with recyclable or renewable components.

“I think what we’re going to continue to see is a growing interest in sustainability of business aviation flight because it’s increasingly a corporate aim,” Hubbard said.

COVID-19 brought new passengers into business aviation, which is recovering faster than commercial aviation. Atti said new types of customers encouraged VistaJet to offer new products. “As hard and horrible as COVID has been, it could leave a good legacy for the operators and the way we serve our customers because we discovered new needs that we can serve better,” he said.

Finally, the panelists expect innovation to continue advancing rapidly, especially in the areas of safety and data management. Bolen said, “I’m very bullish on the future of our industry, the future of those technologies, and our ability to fly farther, safer, faster, healthier and, more importantly, sustainably.”

Learn more about the Business Aviation Coalition for Sustainable Aviation Fuel.