GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 5 FEBRUARY 2018
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CORSIA adoption momentous but is just the start of the environmental long-term challenge, says airline chief
Mon 5 Feb 2018 – The adoption in 2016 by ICAO States of CORSIA had been momentous, IAG CEO Willie Walsh told the recent Aviation Carbon 2017 conference, and urged governments to support the international carbon offsetting scheme from the start and airlines to start preparing for its introduction. However, he said, it was just the beginning of the environmental challenge facing the industry and he foresaw the need for a market-based measure continuing well beyond CORSIA’s planned end in 2035 as well as a step-change in aircraft technology and the ongoing development of sustainable alternative fuels. The industry had to demonstrate both financial and environmental sustainability or it will decline, he warned. Tim Johnson of the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) said recent research suggested it would be difficult for industry emissions growth to be funded through the carbon markets on a long-term basis and the focus had to be on decarbonising the sector.
Emitting 814 million tonnes of CO2 by the airline industry in 2016 was a significant and growing contribution to global man-made warming despite ongoing efficiency improvements, Walsh said in a keynote opening address at Aviation Carbon 2017. At 2.8%, he reported, the industry was ahead of its short-term 1.5% average annual fuel efficiency improvement target but faced a very challenging long-term goal of halving net carbon emissions by 2050. It would be spending trillions of dollars in new aircraft, more efficient operations and technologies like sustainable alternative fuels, he said, but the goal was unlikely to be achieved without the need for a market-based measure (MBM). In the absence of a single global mechanism, a patchwork of different measures would also create perverse and inefficient outcomes, he argued.
Michael Gill, Executive Director of the cross-sector Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), told the conference a global MBM had been a fundamental part of the industry’s global climate strategy since 2009 and had pushed for an agreement at ICAO that would avoid the patchwork.
“We have seen the danger of a patchwork of measures in other areas of aviation – the rise of passenger rights regulations around the world is just one example,” told delegates. “The ICAO resolution intends CORSIA to be the single global measure to address international aviation CO2 emissions and that is certainly the industry position.
“Since the resolution was adopted we’ve seen proposals in Sweden, the Netherlands and Colombia for national measures to address aviation CO2 impact that we are trying to avoid. And, of course, there is the continuing uncertainty over the application of the EU ETS to international flights in the post-2020 CORSIA environment.”
Gill said there was still a lot of work still to be done on CORSIA implementation but the industry was committed to working with all aircraft operators to ensure capacity building and training is carried out. As well as his ATAG role, Gill is also Director of Aviation Environment at IATA.
“We are undergoing work at the moment to identify and capture not just the 280-strong IATA membership who have been closely involved in the CORSIA discussions but also the broader airline community. As we don’t quite know the final number of States that will have volunteered to participate from the start, it’s a challenging and ongoing task,” he said in a panel session.
“We are also continuing to work with governments to try and raise the number of States volunteering. There are a number of significant aviation players that have not yet done so and we would like to try and change that in the coming years before the scheme comes fully into effect.”
Also participating in the session, Bruce Parry of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) said up to 200 business aircraft operators could be impacted by CORSIA. However, he added, there were many more that were close to the 10,000-tonne annual international CO2 emissions threshold and they may have to be introduced into the system in case their operations increased over the coming years. The business aviation sector was actively engaging with operators on CORSIA, he reported.
Gill said it was a huge challenge in getting airlines and operators up to speed on CORSIA in such a short time.
“We are running an ambitious series of capacity-building workshops with the airline and business aviation communities to make sure they know the processes and systems they need to put in place and the obligations they have under the CORSIA system. IATA is working on a number of tools to help facilitate the reporting process for all airlines. It’s a big undertaking but one we’ve decided to put a high priority on, both within ATAG and IATA.”
Although CORSIA had become the main focus of the industry’s four-pillar climate strategy, once it has come into effect, “it will become part of airlines’ day-to-day operations, as long as we get the framework and implementation rules right,” he said.
Tim Johnson of the AEF, which is a member of ICSA, the NGO group represented at ICAO, said the short space of time for the aviation industry and States to prepare for CORSIA was a cause for concern. Operators will have to work out reporting methodologies in 2018, with reporting requirements starting in 2019, he said, and a large number of States will have to enact legislation very quickly to make this possible.
“What you have in CORSIA at the moment is a high-level political agreement,” he told the conference. “Although a lot of good technical work has taken place, you still need a political buy-in to make it happen. Our concern is that as you try to negotiate this, you go for expediency over content because of the urgency.
“We want to ensure that the technical evaluation and recommendations are adopted by States. We appreciate the need for urgency but not at the expense of content.”
Johnson said an opportunity had been missed to send an early signal to the carbon markets that would have provided them time to prepare and ensure the aviation sector got what it needed. “We must have confidence in the units used in CORSIA, that they are the best you can buy, deliver sustainable benefits and that there are enough of them,” he said.
Willie Walsh, CEO of International Airlines Group and a long-standing member of IATA’s board of governors, told delegates a global market-based measure is here to stay. “There has to be some form of MBM to continue beyond 2035 and maybe 2050 as well.
“I believe CORSIA is a good first step, it’s part of the industry’s climate solution but is clearly not the whole answer. We need to look beyond 2035 and the industry won’t stop operating in 2050 so we need to do more after that. New technology, including sustainable alternative fuels (SAF), will be part of the solution, with maybe electric and hybrid technology being introduced in the next 15 to 20 years, perhaps shorter in business aviation. We would be fooling ourselves though to think SAF is the answer as it won’t be able to provide all our fuel requirements, but it will be significant.”
Walsh said a step change in technology would be needed past 2050 and that platform would need to be identified within the next 10 years.
He added: “Investors are asking more questions about what we are doing on the environment and the industry is being challenged more openly on it. Airline CEOs are becoming much more aware. I’m not saying everyone but I do believe that over the past 10 years, the participation in the debate around this issue has significantly improved.
“If you can’t demonstrate your industry is sustainable on an environmental basis it won’t be able to continue. The measures we are taking provide us with a path to a sustainable future from an environmental point of view. If we fail on that path then the scale of activity for aviation will have to reduce. We have to demonstrate both financial and environmental sustainability or the industry will decline.”
Norway sets ambition for all-electric short-haul flights by 2040 as aerospace majors announce hybrid-electric venture
Thu 25 Jan 2018 – By 2040, all short-haul flights within Norway and neighbouring countries lasting up to one-and-a-half hours should be operated by electric aircraft, forecasts Norwegian airport operator Avinor. In the transition to all-electric aircraft operations, the country, which aims to be the world’s first to switch to electric air transport, will ramp up use of sustainable aviation fuels and hopes to have a small electric plane with 19 seats operating on a commercial route starting in 2025. Over the past year, a number of electric or hybrid-electric commercial aircraft projects have hit the headlines, the latest an announcement by Airbus, Siemens and Rolls-Royce that they are to collaborate on designing a demonstrator hybrid-electric regional aircraft that is anticipated to fly in 2020.
“Electric aircraft are set to significantly improve the environmental consequences of the aviation industry,” said Avinor CEO Dag Falk-Petersen. “It could also be cheaper to fly as operating costs for several aircraft models will be considerably lowered, which will have an impact on ticket prices.”
Air transport accounts for 2.4% of Norwegian greenhouse gas emissions for domestic traffic and more than double that when international traffic is included.
“We know that aviation will increase sharply in the future and environmental measures are important,” the country’s climate and environment minister, Vidar Helgesen, told state broadcaster NRK.
Before the introduction of electric aircraft passenger flights, biofuels would be part of the solution, he said, adding: “We have an escalation plan for biofuels, which we believe provides a strong signal to the market. Investment decisions are now being made on the production of biofuels in Norway, based on domestic raw wood material, which will make the biofuel more sustainable as an energy source for airplanes.”
State-owned operator Avinor says it is working to ensure Norway takes a leading role on electric aircraft at the international level and collaborating with aviation industry partners on a development and innovation project, which is also backed by the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications.
As a first step, Avinor and the Norwegian Air Sports Federation have ordered an Alpha Electro G2 electric two-seater aircraft from Slovenian aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel, claimed to be the first of its kind to be approved for commercial series production. It has a range of 130km and can remain airborne for around an hour per charging. The aircraft is expected to be delivered this coming May.
Commenting on the project, Ketil Solvik-Olsen, Minister of Transport and Communications, said: “We are now seeing rapid, positive development in environmentally-friendly technology in the transport sector. Electric drives and batteries are changing shipping and road transport. It is incredibly exciting that we can also contribute to leading the way in environmentally-friendly air travel.
“By introducing Norway’s first electric aircraft, we will be demonstrating that this is not a far-off vision of the future but a reality achievable within a few years.”
Meanwhile, Airbus has abandoned a project to develop, with a view to manufacturing, its own two-seater electric aircraft, the E-Fan. Instead, it will work with Siemens and Rolls-Royce on the E-Fan X hybrid-electric technology demonstrator based on a BAe 146 regional aircraft. It is anticipated to fly in 2020 following a comprehensive ground test campaign. One of the aircraft’s four gas turbine engines will be replaced by a two megawatt electric motor, with provision to replace a second gas turbine with an electric motor once system maturity has been proven. Additionally, a Rolls-Royce AE2100 gas turbine will be installed in the rear fuselage to power a two megawatt electrical generator.
As well as double digit percentage fuel savings, other benefits include lower aircraft noise, says Rolls-Royce. According to an article by the Royal Aeronautical Society on the venture, Siemens has been at work lowering the noise of its electric aircraft prototypes and if the early promising results can be scaled up, then hybrid-electric regional airliners could open up the possibility of a relaxation of night-time restrictions at airports.
The objective of the E-Fan X project, say the partners, is to push and mature the technology, performance, safety and reliability that will enable quick progress on hybrid-electric technology. The programme, they add, also aims at establishing the requirements for future certification of electrically powered aircraft while training a new generation of designers and engineers to bring hybrid-electric commercial aircraft “one step closer to reality”.
Rolls-Royce Chief Technology Officer Paul Stein said: “The E-Fan X enables us to build on our wealth of electrical expertise to revolutionise flight and welcome in the third generation of aviation. This is an exciting time for us as this technological advancement will result in Rolls-Royce creating the world’s most powerful flying generator.”
The partners say that meeting the EU’s Flightpath 2050 Vision of a 75% reduction in CO2, a 90% reduction of NOx and a noise reduction of 65% cannot be achieved by existing technologies. Electric and hybrid-electric propulsion are among the most promising technologies for addressing the challenge, they stress.
Virgin Atlantic removes Cambodian forest project from carbon offset portfolio as NGO and standards body clash over REDD+
Tue 23 Jan 2018 – Following a report by forestry NGO Fern, Virgin Atlantic Airways has removed from its carbon offset portfolio a controversial REDD+ project in Cambodia. The report, which warns the aviation industry not to purchase REDD+ forestry credits under the ICAO CORSIA international carbon offsetting scheme, included a case study of the Oddar Meanchey project. Fern claims forest carbon offsets fail to meet the majority of the eight principles set by ICAO and should be excluded from the CORSIA mechanism. The NGO also says standards set by bodies such as Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), which certified the Cambodian project, should not be trusted. VCS has reacted strongly, publishing a rebuttal and calling the report inaccurate and misleading. It says REDD+ has matured over the past decade and forest carbon credits are now well-positioned to meet all ICAO’s offset quality criteria.
REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is a UNFCCC-developed mechanism that allows projects in developing countries to receive funding for the conservation and sustainable management of forests, so preserving forest carbon stocks. Deforestation was first introduced as a new and separate agenda item of the UNFCCC negotiations at COP11 in 2005. Since then, the scope expanded from reducing emissions from deforestation (RED) to include forest degradation (REDD) and three additional ‘plus’ elements: the conservation and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks and the sustainable management of forests.
Around 11% – some say as high as 18% – of global carbon emissions are caused by deforestation and forest degradation, and in addition to their carbon storage role, forests are valuable in many other ways with the protection of the ecosystem and biodiversity. It is estimated by the UN that 1.6 billion people depend on forests and so by conserving them, REDD+ is also meant to offer a broad range of social, environmental and economic benefits to developing countries and forest communities.
There are around 64 developing countries in Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region participating in the UN-REDD Programme that was launched in 2008. The multi-lateral body partners with developing countries to support them in establishing the technical capabilities needed to implement REDD+ and meet UNFCCC requirements for REDD+ results-based payments. Most of the money for projects comes from multilateral and bilateral aid agencies, including the World Bank, the UN-REDD Programme and governments, particularly Norway.
By putting a value on forest protection, REDD+ has also created a voluntary market in which generated credits are sold to fossil fuel-dependent industries to offset their carbon emissions. However, REDD+ has proved controversial from the outset, with the result that REDD+ credits are not permitted under the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) or the UN’s own Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). As a consequence, the market for forest credits has been limited but there is now interest from the airline industry to purchase the credits under CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation).
According to the Fern report, ‘Unearned credit – why aviation industry forest offsets are doomed to fail’, carbon offset programmes under CORSIA must meet eight criteria:
- Are additional;
- Are based on a realistic and credible baseline;
- Are quantified, monitored, reported and verified;
- Have a clear and transparent chain of custody;
- Represent permanent emissions reductions;
- Assess and mitigate against potential increase in emissions elsewhere;
- Are only counted once towards a mitigation obligation; and
- Do no net harm.
Fern claims that forest carbon offsets are “highly unlikely” to meet at least six of these eight criteria, with criteria three and four open to question in particular cases. Therefore, it argues, if airlines were able to use offsets where actual emissions did not result, ICAO’s post-2020 carbon neutral growth ambition would be at risk of not being met.
The report carries two case studies of airline-backed REDD+ projects – Mai Ndombe in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Oddar Meanchey in Cambodia – and scored them against the ICAO criteria. Credits have been purchased for the former by Austrian Airlines and the Good Traveler passenger carbon offset programmes, whereas Virgin Atlantic’s passenger offset programme has supported the Oddar Meanchey project.
Cambodia’s first REDD+ project, Oddar Meanchey, covering 65,000 hectares, supports 13 community forestry groups and is being implemented by the Forestry Administration of Cambodia, Pact, Terra Global Capital (the project developer) and the Children’s Development Association, with funding support expected to come from the Clinton Foundation, United Nations Development Programme, Terra Global Capital and Pact. The amount of verified carbon units (VCUs) – under the VCS Program, projects are issued unique carbon credits known as VCUs equal to the removal or prevention of one tonne of CO2e achieved by a project – generated by Oddar Meanchey are 6,143,767 after applying a 19.75% ‘buffer’ discount over a 30-year crediting period that started in February 2008. A VCS pooled buffer account holds non-tradable buffer credits to cover the risk of non-permanent emission reductions.
The project was reported by The Cambodia Daily in June 2013 to have got off to a “troubled start” and anti-REDD campaign group REDD-Monitor has since posted a number of blogs concerning ongoing problems with the project, including forest clearance by Cambodian soldiers as Oddar Meanchey province is on the border with Thailand. A number of articles have appeared during the past two weeks in The Phnom Penh Post (here, here and here) over the issue and Virgin Atlantic’s withdrawal from the project, prompted by the Fern report.
Virgin Atlantic customers can purchase carbon credits for their flights through its offset partner Natural Capital Partners (NCP), formerly The CarbonNeutral Company, and the portfolio also includes wind power and solar cooker projects.
“In November 2017, we were made aware of concerns regarding the Oddar Meanchey project in Cambodia,” an airline spokesperson told GreenAir in a statement. “The project was included in our portfolio in good faith, and NCP have confirmed that these credits were generated in 2010 and validated to the Climate, Community and Biodiversity (CCB) and Verified Carbon Standards in 2013.
“As a customer, we rely on independent accreditation schemes like these to ensure quality. But things can change in the years between verifications, and because of the subsequent concerns raised, we asked NCP to remove this project from our portfolio. As a result, none of our customers’ offset purchases from 2017 onwards will have included this project.”
Responding, Fern’s Julia Christian said: “Virgin’s statement reveals the flawed logic at the heart of the forest offset industry, and why the aviation industry’s plans to massively ramp up their use is so dangerous. Virgin’s claim that ‘things can change in the years between verifications’ underlines precisely why offsets don’t work. The airline may have stopped purchasing Oddar Meanchey credits but for the offsets they have already used, the emissions they were meant to ‘balance out’ are now forever in the atmosphere.
“This can happen at any point in a forest offset project, even years after the project is finished. As soon as any forest is destroyed, its effect of balancing out emissions disappears. Storage of carbon in forests is highly reversible and volatile. It cannot be used to balance out airplanes’ release of carbon emissions into the atmosphere – which are permanent.”
NCP’s Chief Marketing Officer, Rebecca Fay, admitted the Oddar Meanchey project had turned out to be “challenging” but said NCP had originally purchased the credits back in 2014 and had no doubts about their integrity.
“Processes are in place to ensure those emission reduction credits that are sold are always guaranteed because they have been validated and verified, plus there is a buffer in place to protect against any loss of trees,” she told GreenAir. “Yes, this project is now struggling but that doesn’t impact the credits Virgin Atlantic have purchased and doesn’t mean all REDD+ projects are bad – there are amazing projects around the world that are doing really important work.
“There are many aspects of the Fern report that are being challenged by VCS and the project developer but the airline has decided that it doesn’t want to support that particular project in the future.”
Both the Oddar Meanchey and Mai Ndombe projects were certified by VCS. “As one of the leading carbon verification standards, on which ICAO is proposing to rely heavily to implement its carbon offsetting scheme, this is deeply worrying as the experience of Oddar Meanchey shows these standards cannot be trusted,” said Fern’s Christian.
Washington DC-based non-profit VCS has reacted strongly to Fern’s report with an eight-page rebuttal statement.
“The Fern report grossly, at times wilfully, misinterprets the way our standards function,” Kate Heller of VCS told GreenAir. “As a result, Fern draws mistaken conclusions that are not backed up with credible evidence, and which serve to support an ideological stance rather than providing an assessment of how REDD projects function. The report uses biased sources and primarily points to old arguments about REDD project risks from a decade ago, all of which have been resolved by applying rigorous academic research, practical on-the-ground implementation, and transparent rule-development processes.
“As a standard-setting body, VCS has strong incentives to maintain the integrity of its standards for the sake of the market and the projects it vets, both of which rely on VCS Program certification as a badge of quality. VCS cares deeply about the integrity of its Program.”
The VCS statement notes that if there is a loss of forest in the project area, as is reported in the Oddar Meanchey case, this is detected in the subsequent monitoring report and there is no issuance of VCUs for this loss. “REDD+ is a payment-for-results system; therefore, if there is no reduction in emissions nor increase in sequestration, no credits will be issued,” it says. “In addition, buffer credits are cancelled from the pooled account to cover any losses – meaning all issued VCUs remain permanent and atmospheric integrity is maintained. The VCS pooled buffer account currently holds more than 22 million credits to cover such potential losses and ensure atmospheric integrity across the portfolio of projects.”
VCS says uncertified low-quality forestry projects do exist but this “is not a reason to exclude high-quality REDD+ projects from CORSIA and miss the enormous associated opportunity to drive finance to forest protection.”
Commented NCP’s Fay: “REDD+ funding for forest conservation projects around the world is essential for their success. But projects are difficult – they involve the local community, NGOs and government, who have to work together as partners with the project developer to deliver. Many of them work incredibly well in supporting forest-based communities, protecting biodiversity and ecosystems, but no-one pretends they are easy.
“Fern are anti-REDD and I think they are wrong. As long as REDD+ projects are monitored, reported and verified, and VCS keeps its methodology robust, then we will continue to support them.”
The Virgin Atlantic spokesperson added: “Our industry recognises that we need additional interim action like CORSIA to get more reductions in CO2 as soon as possible – while we actively chase down a range of exciting, new low carbon tech solutions such as sustainable aviation fuels and invest billions of dollars in fuel-efficient aircraft.
“As well as CORSIA supporting renewables, we’d love to see some of this money going into much-needed, high-quality forestry conservation schemes. We removed this single project from our portfolio only as a pre-cautionary measure while we made further enquiries about the concerns raised and we’re still looking into this. In recent months we’ve also heard from a number of respected NGOs that there are many excellent forestry projects out there that could benefit from the huge funds to be generated by CORSIA.
“We also know that robust criteria, standards and processes are key to maintaining the right checks and balances – and agree with many of those points raised by Fern and VCS. We understand that CORSIA negotiations will continue to generate a lot of healthy debate, and we remain confident that the CORSIA process will result in airlines being able to support a range of high-quality, meaningful, carbon reduction projects around the world.”
ICAO is holding a seminar in Montreal on February 7-9 to enhance understanding of carbon markets and emissions units, including the criteria for eligible units, and will include a session on REDD+.
Airline fuel efficiency performance on transpacific routes heavily influenced by belly freight, finds ICCT study
Thu 18 Jan 2018 – Belly freight carried in the cargo hold of passenger aircraft accounts for around 25% of the total payload mass moved on flights across the Pacific and is the most important driver of airline fuel efficiency performance. So finds a new study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) which has analysed and ranked 20 airlines operating nonstop flights between mainland United States and East Asia and Oceania. It found the gap between the most fuel efficient, China’s Hainan Airlines and All Nippon Airways (ANA), and least efficient, Qantas Airways, was 64%, which is the widest it has found in its studies on comparing US domestic and transatlantic flights. Airlines that predominantly used Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft were also found to be considerably better performers on transpacific routes than those using four-engined aircraft, including the Airbus A380.
ICCT started assessing the fuel efficiency of US airlines on domestic operations in 2013 and then progressed to comparing 20 major airlines operating on routes between North America and Europe for the year 2014. The gap between the most and least efficient airlines on US domestic routes was 25% in 2014 and the gap on transatlantic routes was 51%. As would be expected, those airlines with more fuel-efficient aircraft, less premium seating, and higher passenger and freight load factors performed better.
However, the transpacific market differs in important ways, says ICCT. Twin-aisle and very large aircraft are prevalent on flights across the Pacific Ocean but are rarely used for US domestic operations. They are also used on transatlantic flights but more premium flight offerings are available for the Asian market, typically resulting in fewer seats on each plane. In addition, the amount of freight transported between Asia and the United States, both in dedicated freighter aircraft and in the cargo hold of passenger planes, dwarfs what is carried between the US and Europe.
ICCT assessed the key drivers of the fuel efficiency gap between the 20 transpacific carriers – aircraft fuel burn, seating density, passenger load factor and freight share of total payload. Of these, freight share was found to be the most important driver overall, accounting for almost half of the variation across the carriers, compared with just 9% for transatlantic flights. Seating density made up nearly a quarter of the variation, with aircraft fuel burn and passenger load factors relatively less important (see graph in article).
Hainan and ANA both achieved an average fuel efficiency of 36 passenger-kilometres per litre (pax-km/L) of fuel in 2016, 16% better than the industry average, but by using very different strategies. Hainan achieved its efficiency rating through its very advanced fleet, with 81% of available seat kilometres coming from its Boeing 787 aircraft. In contrast, ANA operated aircraft with higher fuel burn but carried more payload, especially cargo. ANA carried three times as much belly freight per passenger as Hainan, equalling 48% of total payload carried.
Qantas, whose fuel efficiency fell 41% below the industry average on transpacific routes, was found by ICCT to operate the most fuel-intensive aircraft at very low load factors for both passengers and freight.
ICCT’s study found that in general the fuel burn per passenger-kilometre increases along with aircraft size and weight. Airlines that predominantly use the four-engined Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 – Asiana, Korean Air and Qantas – had the lowest overall fuel efficiency. In addition, the seating densities and passenger load factors on these aircraft were typically less than the industry average.
“There’s a reason airlines around the world are starting to avoid very large aircraft like the 747 and A380,” said Dan Rutherford, ICCT’s Aviation Program Director and co-author of the report. “Newer twin-engine widebodies provide the payload and range capabilities needed for transpacific flights with much lower fuel burn.”
The Boeing 777 aircraft family was the most widely used on transpacific routes in 2016, accounting for 57% of all flights, and its overall fuel efficiency averaged around 1 pax-km/L better than the industry average. The Boeing 787 and Airbus A330-300 were notably more fuel efficient at 35 to 39 pax-km/L, although the newest twin-aisle aircraft on the market, the Airbus A350-900, with a fuel efficiency measured just above average, did not perform as well as might be expected given its technology level. However, the A350 made only a small number of transpacific flights in 2016, just 280, and ICCT expects its average fuel efficiency to improve as more airlines fly the aircraft at higher passenger load factors and freight share.
As similarly observed in ICCT’s transatlantic rankings, seating configuration – or seating density – also influences airline fuel efficiency. The seating densities on transatlantic operations were found to be generally higher than for transpacific operations, with a higher share of premium seats (first and business class) for transpacific flights. Given that premium seats are on average three times as carbon-intensive as economy seats, this could be one explanation for why average fuel efficiency for transpacific operations at 31 pax-km/L was lower than for transatlantic operations at 32 pax-km/L, suggests ICCT.
“This research shows that there are a variety of ways that international airlines can reduce fuel use and carbon emissions,” commented ICCT’s Brandon Graver, lead author of the study. “Buying new aircraft, carrying large numbers of passengers and optimising freight strategies all make a difference.”
ICCT said future work will be undertaken to quantify and compare the difference in the amount of fuel burned to transport a tonne of freight across the Pacific by way of a dedicated freighter compared with using passenger aircraft freight capacity. It also hopes to include routes to and from Canada in future rankings and is seeking widespread cooperation from ranked airlines so that its methodology can be shifted from a modelling approach to one which uses primary fuel burn data.
Geneva and Galápagos airports certified as carbon neutral
Thu 25 Jan 2018 – Geneva and Galápagos airports are the latest airports to be certified as carbon neutral under the industry’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme. This brings the total number of carbon neutral airports for emissions under their control to 37, with Galápagos Ecological Airport in Ecuador becoming the first to reach this status in Latin America. “We are very encouraged by the fact that the learnings and the efficiencies achieved through their carbon management journey up to Level 3+ will ultimately be implemented by airports across the region,” commented ACI-LAC DG Javier Martinez Botacio. The airport has invested in carbon offsets funding biomass and cook stoves projects, purchased under the UNFCCC CDM and Gold Standard. In all, 211 airports across the world are now accredited at one of the four levels of the carbon programme, which was first launched in Europe in 2009. More details of ACI programme here.
Air Traffic Control the Netherlands joins KLM's Corporate Biofuel Programme
Thu 25 Jan 2018 – Air Traffic Control the Netherlands has joined KLM’s Corporate Biofuel Programme, enabling it to compensate for the CO2 from staff business flights through the purchase of sustainable biofuels. “Our employees travel regularly outside the Netherlands to meet with our international partners. Air Traffic Control the Netherlands is delighted to be able to contribute to the sustainable development of the aviation sector by compensating for 100% of the CO2 emitted by our business flights with KLM. This is a great example of how we jointly facilitate aviation, in a sustainable way,” said CEO Michiel van Dorst. Other partners in the programme include Delft University of Technology, ABN AMRO, Accenture, FrieslandCampina, City of Amsterdam, Loyens & Loeff, Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management, PGGM, and the Schiphol Group. Sourced through SkyNRG, the biofuels are produced from raw materials that do not have a negative impact on biodiversity and food production, says KLM.
GE Aviation starts engine combustor testing of unblended Gevo ATJ renewable fuel
Thu 25 Jan 2018 – Engine manufacturer GE Aviation has started jet engine combustor testing using unblended renewable alcohol-to-jet (ATJ) fuel produced by Gevo. The testing is part of the FAA’s Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise Program (CLEEN) and is specifically designed to enable greater displacement of petroleum-based jet fuel by bio-based alternative products. Meanwhile, Gevo has announced cuts in staff and costs to improve cash flow but says it remains committed to increasing sales of its ATJ fuel. “In 2018, the goal is to obtain off-take agreements for our products that will support financing the Luverne Facility expansion,” said CEO Dr Patrick Gruber. “Concurrently, we are looking extensively into ways to extend our cash runway as far as possible to give us the time to land and negotiate these contracts properly.” Gevo’s ATJ was approved for commercial aviation use in 2016 and has been used in flights by Alaska Airlines and by eight other airlines on flights out of Chicago in November 2017.