GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 16 JANUARY 2015
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LATAM partners with SCX to launch a corporate air travel carbon offsetting programme in Latin America
Fri 16 Jan 2015 – Latin American airline group LATAM has joined forces with SCX, the first private climate stock exchange in the Southern Hemisphere, to launch a programme dedicated to offsetting carbon emissions from corporate air travel. Commitments to reduce emissions from the 10 companies that have initially joined the programme, called Neutravel, account for over 17,000 tons of CO2 and in its first year, it is aiming to reach 50,000 tons – equivalent to the carbon captured in one year by planting more than 6 million native trees. Partner companies will neutralise emissions through investments in certified emission compensation projects in the region, together with accredited in-house reductions.
SCX says it can offer a platform for measuring and verifying emissions from any business air travel on any global airline, while LATAM will on request provide companies that are part of the programme specific emission factor information of their business travel flights to support the measurement of their carbon footprint.
The projects covered by Neutravel include nature conservation initiatives – such as the Amazon forest in Peru, the Valdivian Coastal Reserve in Chile and Choco-Darien in Colombia – and non-conventional renewable energy projects in Chile, including the Hornitos Center and Nueva Aldea.
The partners say the programme, which has been launched initially in Chile before it is extended to other countries in the region, has been designed in accordance with the most rigorous criteria and methodologies for measuring greenhouse gas emissions and complies with IATA recommendations.
SCX, the Santiago Climate Exchange, is a private organisation formed in 2011 and its activities include the creation of a marketplace for transacting CO2 emission reduction certificates, administration of a carbon-neutral certification system and advising countries and international organisations on the implementation of public policies that contribute to reducing emissions “without negatively affecting their economic competitiveness”.
“Thanks to this alliance and the strength and experience that SCX and LATAM Airlines Group brings to this programme, we will advance this initiative and provide a concrete solution to a real issue faced by companies, generating a positive impact on the environment and communities,” commented Juan Andrés Camus, Chairman of SCX.
Neutravel, which is contactable at firstname.lastname@example.org, is open to any public or private organisation wishing to neutralise the carbon emissions of its flights.
Neutravel, SCX, LATAM Airlines Group, LAN – Sustainability
Boeing and Embraer open joint research centre to aid sustainable aviation fuels development in Brazil
Thu 15 Jan 2015 – Following a collaboration agreement signed last year to jointly conduct and co-fund research into establishing an aviation biofuels industry in Brazil, Boeing and Embraer have opened a research centre in São José dos Campos. At the centre, the companies will coordinate and co-fund research with Brazilian universities and other institutions. This will focus on technologies that address gaps in creating a viable industry, such as feedstock production, techno-economic analysis, economic viability studies and processing technologies. Boeing’s efforts in the project is led by Boeing Research & Technology-Brazil, one of six international advanced research centres. Embraer has been involved in several aviation biofuel initiatives, including test flights of an E-170 conducted with engine manufacturer GE under a broad range of conditions.
“Boeing and Embraer are partnering in an unprecedented way to make more progress on sustainable aviation biofuel than one company can do alone,” said Donna Hrinak, President of Boeing Brazil and Latin America. “Brazil, a pioneer in the sustainable fuels industry, will play a leading role in establishing the biofuels industry and helping meet aviation’s environmental goals.”
Added Mauro Kern, EVP Engineering and Technology for Embraer: “Our purpose is to support work on developing and maturing the knowledge and technologies needed to establish a sustainable aviation biofuel industry in Brazil with global reach.”
Between 2012 and 2013, the two aircraft manufacturers and other Brazilian partners held a series of workshops which resulted in a detailed roadmap being published in 2014. Boeing and Embraer have committed to sharing intellectual property developed by the new Boeing-Embraer Joint Research Center, which is situated in the Technology Park of Embraer’s home city.
Boeing – Sustainable Aviation Biofuel , Embraer – Environmental Responsibility
Heathrow sets out blueprint for tackling aircraft noise as Qatar’s all-new Airbus A350 XWB makes its London debut
Thu 15 Jan 2015 – London’s Heathrow Airport used an operational proving visit of Qatar Airways’ first new Airbus A350 aircraft earlier this week to outline its 10-point plan to reduce aircraft noise impacts by this summer. The steps include the phasing out of the oldest and noisiest Chapter 3 aircraft serving the airport. Accounting for around one per cent of all aircraft using Heathrow, the airlines that operate them already pay ten times more than for the quietest aircraft and the airport operator is considering further increases in Chapter 3 landing charges. Other actions include campaigns to encourage better use of aircraft technology and operational procedures, bigger fines for noisy departures and reductions in late departures. During the A350 visit, a field trial was conducted of the new aircraft’s noise levels on two approaches to the airport.
Called the ‘Blueprint for noise reduction’, the Heathrow action plan includes an acceleration of existing efforts to improve the noise performance of the airport as well as some new initiatives, explained Matt Gorman, Heathrow’s Director of Sustainability.
This summer, following the country’s general election, the Airports Commission is due to present its findings and recommendations to the incoming government on runway expansion around London, and the impact of noise on local communities has already proved a major factor in the process. Although Heathrow has been keen to impress the Commission with the noise initiatives it is undertaking, Gorman is adamant that tackling noise is important for his airport regardless of its proposed expansion plans.
“We are a busy airport near London and we need to take responsibility for tackling noise today,” he said, whilst acknowledging that there had been a breakdown of trust from local communities over past promises on noise. “The way we will mend this is by making clear commitments and sticking to them.”
Four of the 10 steps Heathrow is taking to reduce noise impacts on communities involve aircraft on approach to the airport. Over 85% of daytime and over 90% of night-time arrivals use a continuous descent approach (CDA) procedure in which aircraft descend at a steady rate rather than coming down in steps, which causes more noise. Although a high percentage by industry standards, Heathrow says it will work with air traffic services provider NATS and other parties to encourage the worst-performing airlines to do more to adhere to the airport’s code of practice.
The airport is also looking to explore the potential for aircraft to make steeper angles of descent which would mean the aircraft spending less time at low altitudes. Heathrow believes an aircraft coming in to land at an angle of 3.25 degrees instead of the normal 3 degrees would be noticeably quieter without compromising safety. To prove the point, it will work with airlines this September to trial steeper descents, with a long-term aim of incorporating the steeper angles into proposals for redesigning Heathrow airspace.
As landing aircraft lower their landing gear, engine power has to be increased to compensate and so increasing noise. There are no rules about when landing gear should be lowered and the decision is left to the pilot. However, says Heathrow, there is a lack of consistency between airlines operating the same aircraft type, and sometimes within the same airline. It says it will consult with airlines to understand the reasons and what can be safely done to delay landing gear deployment and encourage quieter landings.
The Airbus A320 family of aircraft account for over a half of all aircraft using Heathrow but they are prone to emitting a distinctive high-pitched whistling sound when around 10 to 25 miles from touchdown. This is caused by airflow over the aircraft’s fuel vents but it is now possible to retrofit a component that reduces the noise from each aircraft by around 6 decibels. To make retrofitting a more attractive option, Heathrow says it will investigate what incentives – financial or otherwise – it can offer airlines to fix the problem.
The airport is also going to investigate if it can make a better and fairer distribution of night-time landing noise by spreading runway use more evenly between the two runways and the two directions of approach.
On departures, Heathrow is introducing higher fines, which go to a local community fund, for airlines exceeding noise limits, particularly at night. It also intends working with NATS and airlines to reduce late departures at night. The last scheduled departure of the day leaves its stand at 22:50 but for a variety of reasons aircraft often leave later, which can be disruptive for local communities. Heathrow says if it becomes necessary, aircraft may be refused permission to depart after 23:30.
Other steps in the action programme include accelerating an insulation programme for local schools and the continuation of a programme launched last year to provide quiet outdoor learning spaces, called adobe buildings, for 21 primary schools within zones of higher aircraft noise.
According to Gorman, Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye recently wrote to the chief executives of around 40 airlines serving the airport asking for their support in phasing out older aircraft and adopting the operating procedures outlined in the Blueprint. Gorman said the early response so far had been positive.
The appearance at Heathrow of Qatar Airways’ new Airbus A350-900 was largely to demonstrate the quietness of the aircraft compared to types it is designed to replace and engineering firm Arup set up noise monitoring instruments to measure two landings of the aircraft. However, as neither flight carried a normal payload the plane’s noise capabilities were not measured under normal operating conditions.
The A350-900, which is powered by two Rolls-Royce new-generation Trent XWB engines, has a margin of 21 EPNdB compared to the ICAO Chapter 4 limit, says Airbus.
Qatar Airways is the launch customer for the Airbus A350 XWB (extra wide body) and the inaugural commercial flight of the first plane to be delivered took off from Doha to Frankfurt earlier today. Heathrow is unlikely to see a return of the aircraft in the near future as Qatar and other early customers have no plans to use it on routes to London. Heathrow’s hub carrier British Airways has ordered 18 of the stretch version (–1000) but is not expected to take delivery of its first A350 until 2017 or 2018. BA may use the aircraft to replace the much older and noisier Boeing 747-400s in its fleet.
The A350 XWB is made with 53% composite material and a total of 70% advanced materials combining titanium and aluminium alloys, which allows for significant weight savings and therefore lower fuel burn and carbon emissions per passenger. Airbus is claiming A350 fuel consumption and carbon emissions will be 25% lower than the aircraft it typically replaces.
Heathrow Airport – Blueprint for noise reduction, Airbus A350 XWB Eco-efficiency
Finnair and SAA first to reach the top level in IATA’s airline environmental assessment programme
Tue 13 Jan 2015 – Finnair and South African Airways have become the first airlines to complete the highest level of IATA’s environmental performance assessment programme. Stage 2 marks the implementation by the two airlines of all of the IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) Standards, and each has identified and mitigated its significant environmental impacts alongside setting performance targets. This stage also certifies that an airline has developed processes for monitoring and reviewing performance against its environmental targets and objectives. IATA also reports Icelandair, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines have now completed Stage 1 of the programme, which ensures an airline has established a foundation and framework for its environmental management system (EMS), and certifies an airline has identified and complied with its environmental legal requirements.
IATA Director-General Tony Tyler said environmental responsibility, in addition to safety, was the highest priority for the industry. “The new IATA Environmental Assessment sits alongside our industry-wide carbon-reduction targets as a programme for ensuring airlines not only meet, but also exceed their day-to-day operational environmental obligations and performance,” he said.
Commending the five airlines, he added: “These airlines are among the pioneers in this critical new programme. IATA’s audits and assessment schemes are impartial, independent evaluations designed to improve industry performance against global benchmarks.”
The environmental standards and recommended practices for the programme have been specifically designed for the sector and are based on recognised EMS principles such as ISO 14001. IEnvA assesses environmental performance against sustainability standards across a broad range of disciplines, such as the management of air quality and emissions; noise; fuel consumption and operational efficiency; sustainable procurement; and biofuel utilisation. As a result, says IATA, it helps airlines to simplify regulatory compliance, demonstrate good governance and achieve financial savings from the better use of resources.
The programme adopts a modular approach, initially focusing on flight operations and corporate activities at a global level, with a later expansion planned into other activities such as catering, ground operations and maintenance, repair and overhaul.
Assessments are conducted by accredited independent organisations with competencies in aviation and environmental auditing, assures IATA.
“The IATA Operational Safety Audit has done much to help improve airline safety and we expect the IEnvA will do the same for environmental standards,” said Tyler.
Finnair reached Stage 1 of the programme in June 2013, along with a small pilot group of airlines. Other airlines that have also achieved this level include Air Transat, Kenya Airways, LATAM, LATAM Cargo and Malaysia Airlines.
While other major carriers from Europe and America have, disappointingly, yet to join the programme, Finnair CEO Pekka Vauramo said developing common environmental standards and assessment was important for the industry.
“Environmental sustainability is at the core of Finnair’s operations and we are continuously working to improve our environmental performance,” he said. “It also matters to our customers and we are happy to provide more sustainable options for their air travel.”
The airline has in place a number of environmental targets, including a 20% reduction in carbon emissions between 2009 and 2017, and a 40% noise reduction from its aircraft between 2014 and 2017. Other targets cover reductions in waste, anti-icing fluid usage and energy usage in corporate facilities.
Added Finnair COO Ville Iho: “Everything we can do to minimise our carbon profile as an airline is a victory for the environment and for our ability to generate shareholder value. In the long run, however, environmental performance is like safety – it is something that all airlines benefit from within sector-wide cooperation. The standards of the IEnvA programme help us and all airlines improve fuel efficiency, reduce waste and limit greenhouse gas emissions in our operations.”
IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA) programme, Finnair – Environmental Responsibility, South African Airways – Environment
Cross-border trial to reduce holding times over London for Heathrow-bound aircraft reaps fuel and CO2 benefits
Fri 9 Jan 2015 – Aircraft approaching London’s Heathrow Airport spend an average of eight minutes circling in holdings stacks before their final descent that not only lead to delays but also extra fuel burn and CO2 emissions as well as noise impacts for communities underneath the stacks. A project led by NATS is aiming to cut average holding times by a quarter and the UK air traffic services provider reports that since April 2014 it has achieved reductions of up to a minute for those flights influenced by the trial. NATS says this has already saved airlines around £1 million ($1.5m) in fuel costs and 5,000 tonnes of CO2. The trial is being carried out as part of the UK-Ireland Functional Airspace Block (FAB) and in collaboration with FABEC and Heathrow Airport.
With Heathrow scheduled to 98% capacity, the airport relies on stacks to provide a continuous flow of traffic but in normal circumstances NATS can only influence an aircraft’s approach once it enters UK airspace, which may be only 80 miles out.
In the first step of a broader strategy to minimise holding times on arrival, the trial involves air traffic controllers in the UK, France, Ireland and the Netherlands working in partnership to slow aircraft down up to 350 miles away from London.
“Taking 60 seconds out of holding for trial-influenced aircraft may not seem a lot, but it is a significant achievement and equates to serious savings for our airline customers, while proving that this kind of cross-border cooperation can reap real benefits,” said Martin Rolfe, NATS Managing Director, Operations.
“The next steps involve us taking what we’ve learnt so far and improving our procedures for even greater results.”
In September, the trial entered a new phase in which the minimum stack delay threshold was reduced from nine minutes to seven and the maximum speed reduction raised to Mach 0.04 from 0.03.
The Brest Air Traffic Control Centre (ACC) has also joined the trial to take into account more inbound traffic.
“At the same time, under the umbrella of the SESAR [Single European Sky] programme, Reims UAC has refined the concept and introduced a new prototype for gathering London arrivals data and an improved radar trajectory prediction model,” reported Maurice Georges, CEO of DSNA, the French air navigation service provider (ANSP). “The ‘working together’ spirit is bringing real benefits to the community.”
Added Heathrow Airport’s Airside Director, Derek Provan: “This trial is a definitive step in the right direction towards quieter and more sustainable airline operations. We welcome the efforts NATS has made, and for working with us to make Heathrow a better neighbour to local residents.”
Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) are a key tool of the EU’s Single European Sky programme, aiming to help reduce the current fragmentation of air navigation service provision across Europe and increase efficiency and reduce costs to airspace users. The UK-Ireland FAB – which was established in 2008 and integrates traffic flows between the North Atlantic, domestic UK and Ireland, and the core European area – claims to have delivered savings of 73,000 tonnes of fuel and 232,000 tonnes of CO2 in its first four years.
The UK is a collaborating partner in the FABEC initiative that comprises civil and military ANSPs, including the Eurocontrol Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre, in six central European countries.
NATS, Heathrow Airport – Aircraft Stacks, UK-Ireland FAB, FABEC
Renewable jet fuels from Amyris and Gevo make advances on approvals and towards commercial supply
Thu 8 Jan 2015 – Brazil’s fuel regulator ANP has approved the use of Amyris renewable jet fuel for commercial airline use in blends of up to 10 per cent. With the fuel being produced at the Amyris biorefinery at Brotas in south-eastern Brazil, this clears the way for its commercialisation in the country. The farnesane product, developed in partnership with French oil giant Total, is converted from sugarcane, which in time could be extended to other plant sugars. Meanwhile, fellow US biofuel company Gevo has announced a successful first supersonic test flight using a 50/50 blend of the company’s alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel. The US Navy flight was conducted on a F/A-18 Hornet and is a significant milestone leading to a military specification approval of the fuel that would allow for commercial supply to the US Navy and Marine Corps, said the company. ATJ fuel pathways are currently being evaluated for regulatory approval in commercial airline operations.
Amyris CEO John Melo said Brazil imported much of its jet fuel yet taxed renewable fuels at rates that could sometimes exceed taxes on fossil fuels. “At Amyris, we believe our jet fuel represents a great opportunity for Brazil to support local economic development and reduce the country’s dependence on imported fuel, all the while contributing to reductions in carbon emissions,” he said.
Citing a recent study published in the scientific journal Environment Science & Technology, Amyris says a carbon footprint evaluation by Brazilian researchers of its sugarcane-derived farnesane concluded it had a base case net life-cycle emission of 8.5 grams CO2eq/Mj. When compared with its fossil equivalent, this would represent a reduction of around 90% on a life-cycle basis, claims the California-based company.
“The airline industry continues to experience strong growth and while current low oil prices may provide a short-lived respite, the impact of carbon pollution is undeniable,” said Melo. “Amyris and its partners are contributing to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions with our renewable fuel. We are pleased that leading airlines such as Air France, Lufthansa and KLM are, or soon will be, flying with a blend of our fuel.”
To increase resilience and dependency on fossil fuels, the US Navy is exploring alternative drop-in fuel sources, such as Gevo’s ATJ produced at a demo biorefinery in Texas using isobutanol produced from the company’s fermentation facility in Minnesota.
“We have proven that ATJ fuel is a viable alternative for both military and commercial applications,” said Gevo CEO Patrick Gruber. “We’ve validated that the isobutanol is an affordable, clean-burning, US-made, drop-in fuel that can also be further processed into direct replacement hydrocarbon products such as ATJ fuel.”
Amyris, Gevo, ANP – Aviation Biofuels
A composite airplane fleet of the future could reduce aviation life-cycle carbon emissions by 15 per cent, finds study
Wed 7 Jan 2015 – A study by the universities of Sheffield, Cambridge and University College London (UCL) concludes that by 2050 a global fleet of composite airplanes could reduce aviation carbon emissions by between 14 and 15 per cent. The researchers say they are the first to carry out a comprehensive life-cycle assessment (LCA) of a composite plane, such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or Airbus A350, and extrapolate the results to the global fleet. Using publicly available information on the Boeing 787 and from the supply chain – such as the energy usage and the robots that construct the planes – the LCA covers manufacture, use and disposal. Compared to traditional – and heavier – aluminium planes, a composite plane creates up to 20 per cent fewer CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, other researchers at Cambridge, in association with Boeing, have successfully tested a single-seat aircraft with a parallel hybrid engine – the first ever to be able to recharge its batteries in flight.
The LCA study – published in the International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment – found that emissions during the manufacture of composite planes are over double those of aluminium planes but the increase is quickly offset after just a few international flights.
“This study shows that the fuel consumption savings with composites far outweigh the increased environmental impact from their manufacture,” said Alma Hodzic, Professor in Advanced Materials Technologies at the University of Sheffield. “Despite ongoing debates within the industry, the environmental and financial savings from composites mean that these materials offer a much better solution.”
The comparative LCA analysis was conducted on Section 46 of the Boeing 787 fuselage, one of the tube sections supplied by Italian aerospace company Alenia and for which manufacturing data was available, and the 787 airframe was chosen for the high proportion, around 50%, of composite used within its structure.
The LCA data was fed into a wider transport model to gauge the impact on aviation CO2 emissions as composite planes are introduced into the global fleet over the next 25 years, taking into account other factors such as the speed of adoption of the new technology.
However, even by 2050, Andreas Schäfer, Professor in Energy and Transport at UCL, does not expect all the fleet will be of composite construction, hence the study’s forecast that overall emissions saved will be less than the 20% potential. “New planes entering the fleet before 2020 could still be in use by 2050, but the faster the uptake of this technology, the greater the environmental benefits will be,” he said.
Dr Lynette Dray from the University of Cambridge estimates that with the projected four-fold growth of air traffic between now and 2050, changing the materials used could avoid 500 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2050.
Added Prof Hodzic: “The industry target is to halve CO2 emissions for all aircraft by 2050 and while composites will contribute to this, it cannot be achieved by the introduction of lighter composite planes alone. However, our findings show that composites – alongside other technology and efficiency measures – should be part of the picture.”
The hybrid-electric propulsion system, where an electric motor and petrol engine work together to drive the propeller, was designed and built by engineers at Cambridge with Boeing funding support, and showed the commercially-available demonstrator aircraft used up to 30% less fuel than a comparable plane with a petrol-only engine.
The aircraft uses a combination of a 4-stroke piston engine and an electric motor/generator, coupled through the same drive pulley to spin the propeller. During take-off and climb, when maximum power is required, the engine and motor work together to power the plane, but once cruising height is reached, the electric motor can be switched into generator mode to recharge the batteries or used in motor assist mode to minimise fuel consumption, the same principle that applies to hybrid cars.
A power electronics module controls the electrical current to and from the batteries – a set of 16 large lithium-polymer cells located in special compartments built into the wings. The petrol engine is optimally sized to provide the cruise power at its most efficient operating point, resulting in an improved fuel efficiency overall.
“Although hybrid cars have been available for more than a decade, what’s been holding back the development of hybrid or fully-electric aircraft until now is battery technology,” said Dr Paul Robertson of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, who led the project. “Until recently, they have been too heavy and didn’t have enough energy capacity. But with the advent of improved lithium-polymer batteries, similar to what you’d find in a laptop computer, hybrid aircraft – albeit at a small scale – are now starting to become viable.”
While an important step, Robertson and his team accept that a commercial airliner powered entirely by electric motors is decades away and estimate that if all the engines and fuel in a modern jetliner were to be replaced by batteries, it would have a total flying time of roughly 10 minutes.
However, said Marty Bradley, Boeing’s principal investigator for the programme, there was a mission to find innovative solutions and technologies, as well as continually improve the industry’s environmental performance.
“Hybrid electric is one of several important elements of our research efforts and we are learning more every day about the feasibility of these technologies and how they could be used in the future,” he said.
International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment paper, University of Sheffield Department of Mechanical Engineering, UCL Energy Institute, University of Cambridge Institute for Aviation and the Environment, University of Cambridge Department of Engineering, Boeing Commercial Airplanes and the Environment