GREENAIR NEWSLETTER 26 JULY 2019
This is a text-only version. If you would like to see the full version of any article with images, videos, graphs, tables, related articles, etc, then click on the headline of the article.
Carbon emissions from international aviation could treble by 2045 and fuel efficiency goal missed, says ICAO
Thu 25 July 2019 – With an anticipated increase of 3.3 times growth in international air traffic during the period 2015-2045, ICAO projects fuel consumption and carbon emissions will increase by 2.2 to 3.1 times, depending on advances in technology and air traffic management (ATM). International aviation consumed approximately 160 million tonnes (Mt) of fuel in 2015, resulting in CO2 emissions of around 505 Mt. By 2045, if the scenarios were followed, carbon emissions from international flights could rise to between 1,110 Mt and 1,570 Mt. Even under the most optimistic scenario, ICAO’s projected long-term average fuel efficiency improvement of 1.37% per annum falls short of its aspirational goal of 2%. On aircraft noise, the area around airports exposed to yearly average day-night noise levels above 55 dB is likely to remain the same or grow up to 2.2 times during the 2015-2045 period. These global trends, which also include aircraft NOx emission projections, are to help inform environmental discussions at the ICAO 40th Assembly starting in September.
The first ICAO Global Environmental Trends were presented and endorsed at the 37th Assembly in 2010 and have been updated for subsequent Assemblies. “The establishment of the global environmental trends is crucial to the work of ICAO as it provides a robust single reference for sound discussion and decision-making,” says the introduction in a working paper (A40-WP/54) presented by the ICAO Council.
The forecasts are based on a significant modelling and analysis exercise conducted over the past three years since the last 39th Assembly. Despite carbon emissions from international aviation – which make up around 60% of total global aviation emissions – expected to at least double over the long-term, ICAO has now lowered its fuel burn, noise and NOx projections. This, it says, can be attributed to a combination of aircraft with better technology entering the fleet, as well as a reduction in the forecasted long-term traffic demand. The long-term fuel burn is lower by about 25% compared with the projections presented at the last Assembly.
Predicting the contribution of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) to a long-term emissions reduction comes with “significant uncertainties”, says the paper. A number of near-term scenarios evaluated by an alternative fuels working group within ICAO’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP) indicate SAF could make up to 2.6% of total fuel consumption by 2025. The analysis suggested that by 2050, it would be physically possible to meet 100% of international aviation jet fuel demand with SAF, corresponding to a 63% reduction in emissions.
“However, this level of fuel production could only be achieved with extremely large capital investments in sustainable aviation fuel production infrastructure, and substantial policy support,” says the paper. “The effort required to reach these production volumes would have to significantly exceed historical precedent for other fuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel for road transportation.”
The paper notes that CAEP did not consider the contribution of ‘lower carbon’ aviation fuels in its trends analysis, which will be covered as part of CAEP’s work programme over the next triennium.
The long-term 1.37% annual fuel efficiency improvement is made up of 0.98% from technology and 0.39% from operations.
In 2015, full-flight emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) were 2.50 Mt, which is projected to rise to between 5.53 to 8.16 Mt by 2045, representing a 2.2 to 3.3 times growth. As with fuel burn, the long-term forecast has been lowered by about 21% compared with prior projections due to aircraft with lower NOx engines entering the fleet, as well as the reduction in long-term traffic demand. In 2015, NOx emissions within the landing and take-off (LTO) cycle, which affect local air quality, were approximately 0.18 Mt and by 2045 are projected to range from 0.44 to 0.80 Mt depending on the technology and ATM scenario.
For its trends in aircraft noise, CAEP looked at 315 airports representing around 80% of global traffic and the total area exposed to yearly average day-night noise levels (DNL) above 55 dB. In 2015, this total area was 14,400 square-kilometres and the total population inside this area was around 30 million people. The paper notes that under an advanced aircraft technology scenario, from about 2030 the total yearly average DNL may no longer increase with an increase in air traffic. However, it points out, “a number of ambitious actions would need to be carried out on the part of Member States for that scenario to be realised.”
The long-term total DNL 55 dB contour area is lower by about 10% compared with previous projections due to quieter aircraft entering the fleet and a reduction in forecasted long-term traffic demand.
In another working paper (A40-WP/55) to be discussed at the Assembly, ICAO says it has initiated work on the feasibility of a long-term global aspirational goal for international aviation emissions. This was in response to a resolution (A39-2, para 9) adopted at the previous Assembly in 2016, which requested the Council “to continue to explore the feasibility of a long-term global aspirational goal for international aviation, through conducting detailed studies assessing the attainability and impacts of any goals proposed, including the impact on growth as well as costs in all countries, especially developing countries, for the progress of the work to be presented to the 40th Session of the ICAO Assembly. Assessment of long-term goals should include information from Member States on their experiences working towards the medium-term goal.”
A40-WP/55 merely states that work on this will continue for presentation at the next Assembly in 2022.
The aviation industry agreed a long-term target 10 years ago to reduce net emissions by 50% by 2050 based on 2005 levels but ICAO States have so far declined to follow suit. Wording in a draft environmental protection resolution to be considered for adoption at this year’s Assembly (A40-WP/59) states that work related to ICAO’s CORSIA carbon offsetting scheme – designed to maintain 2020 emissions levels – and its implementation “will contribute to the achievement of the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.”
EgyptAir delivery flight of a 787-9 Dreamliner from Boeing sets new sustainable aviation fuel records
Thu 25 July 2019 – The delivery of a new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to customer EgyptAir yesterday was powered by a 30/70 blend of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and conventional kerosene. The 13-hour, 11,000km delivery flight from Boeing’s facility in Everett, Washington, marks the longest flight to date using a SAF blend this high and the longest of any SAF-powered transatlantic commercial aircraft flight, claims the airline. EgyptAir also becomes the first North African airline to use SAF. The SAF was produced from used cooking oil by World Energy at its California biorefinery and supplied by EPIC Fuels. The airline said the Boeing 787-9 is expected to reduce fuel use and carbon emissions by 20% over the aircraft it is replacing. Boeing estimates the Dreamliner family has saved 37 billion pounds (16.8 million tonnes) of fuel since entering service in 2011, the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off the road for a year.
“Boeing and the industry believe sustainable fuel has significant long-term potential to help commercial aviation earn its licence to keep growing and meet our climate goals,” said Sheila Remes, VP Strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
The suppliers of the fuel say it has a 2% better energy content than fossil jet fuel and is a 3% lighter product, that allows potential for longer range or more cargo or passengers.
“As a fuel provider, EPIC Fuels recognises the need to find alternatives to petroleum-only based jet fuel. We are very proud to support EgyptAir on this bold record-setting flight,” said Kai Sorenson, the company’s Director of Commercial Sales. “We’ve participated in multiple demonstration flights to identify and fast track technologies. Now we are working closely with World Energy and Boeing to provide airline customers with commercially viable sustainable aviation fuel for new aircraft deliveries, which puts the industry one step closer to mainstreaming the use of SAF fuels.”
The aircraft delivered to Cairo is the fifth of six Boeing 787-9s ordered by the airline.
“We are committed to the sustainable growth of our airline and supporting commercial aviation’s efforts to protect the environment,” said Ahmed Adel, Chairman and CEO of EgyptAir.
Fast-growing, carbon-neutral Dallas Fort Worth reaches emissions reduction goal two years early
Tue 23 July 2019 – The world’s largest carbon-neutral airport, Dallas Fort Worth International (DFW), says its goal to reduce carbon emissions per passenger by 15% by 2020 compared with 2015, equivalent to a 3% annual reduction, has been achieved two years early. Since 2010, it has reduced emissions per passenger by 83% and overall electricity costs by 27%, while passenger numbers increased 22% over the same period, according to DFW’s latest annual Environmental Social Governance Report 2018. The airport purchases all its electricity from Texas wind farms. To further diversify energy sources, the airport has installed and now operates on-site solar and geothermal renewable technologies. With North Texas being among the country’s fastest growing regions and passenger numbers expected to continue rising, DFW says it is continually seeking new ways to decrease its impact on the environment.
DFW has recently received its carbon neutral certification through the airport sector’s Airport Carbon Accreditation programme for the third year in a row and was the first airport in North America to receive a three-year accreditation. It says its approach to sustainability focuses on four key pillars: economic viability, social responsibility, operational efficiency and natural resources protection.
“As we grow, we continue to invest the time and resources to ensure that strong environmental, social and governance practices are ingrained in our culture and our operations,” said DFW CEO Sean Donohue in the introduction to the report. “In fiscal year 2018, our sustainability efforts addressed 15 of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which are the basis of a comprehensive framework that addresses key issues affecting the world.”
Over the last three years, the airport has experienced significant growth and reached a record 69 million passengers in 2018, which is projected to increase to 73 million in 2019.
“Running the airport sustainably is good for our business and is key to the long-term vitality of North Texas,” said Donohue. “We expect to keep growing – likely more in the next two years than in the last decade. Our promise is that we will grow responsibly.”
The airport has developed a 10-year, multibillion-dollar plan to address its ageing infrastructure. It is incorporating green building standards in all new construction projects and optimising the operations of older facilities to increase energy efficiency and water conservation.
DFW is partnering with Texas A&M University’s Energy Systems Lab on the adoption of a continuous commissioning process to fine-tune building heating and cooling systems that are expected to significantly lower energy consumption across the airport. In 2018, it secured a contract for dynamic glass to be installed in the terminals that minimises up to 67% of solar heat gain compared to existing glass, and helps improve passenger and employee comfort. Supported by a FAA Energy Efficiency grant, a project began last year to upgrade to LED lighting on the terminal ramps, which is expected to save more than four million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year.
In 2018, 36% of fuel consumption from DFW’s transportation fleet was from renewable natural gas (RNG), exceeding the annual goal of 10%. RNG is a renewable fuel source captured from landfills or wastewater treatment plants. RNG reduces life-cycle emissions, provides cost savings and generates revenue from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard Program. DFW said its use of RNG generated a $100,000 renewable fuel rebate and $1 million in savings.
DFW has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with renewable fuel supplier Neste to facilitate the use of sustainable transportation fuels at the airport, such as sustainable aviation fuels, renewable diesel and propane.
In fiscal year 2018, DFW identified waste as a priority area to reduce its landfill diversion rates and a new Zero Waste Program was launched to reduce rates by around 45%. Around 180,000 tons of waste were diverted from landfills last year through recycling.
Air New Zealand commits to doubling the number of in-flight single-use plastics it will remove this year
Tue 23 July 2019 – Air New Zealand has committed to increase the number of single-use plastic items it will remove this year from 24 million to nearly 55 million items. To mark its ‘Plastic Free July’ campaign, the airline has removed individual plastic water bottles from its Business Premier and Premium Economy cabins on Tasman and Pacific Island services under five hours in duration, as well as from its Works Deluxe offering on these flights. The initiative is expected to divert more than 460,000 bottles that have to be sent annually to landfill and save over 300 tonnes of carbon emissions by reducing weight on the aircraft. The airline also plans to roll out coffee cups made from plants rather than plastic across its domestic and international networks from October, while plastic water cups will be transitioned to recyclable alternatives from September.
“Single-use plastic is a highly topical and visible issue for us and our customers, so we’re really pleased to be able to share this progress to celebrate Plastic Free July,” said Air New Zealand’s Acting Head of Sustainability, Anna Palairet. “The lack of composting infrastructure available in New Zealand is a challenge so we have been focused on reducing the amount of single-use plastic products we purchase in the first place.”
The airline’s previous commitment had targeted coffee and water cups on its domestic network, where the majority of cups are used, but the scope has now been expanded to introduce the lower impact cups across the international network. This will lift the total number of cups being replaced this year from 14.7 million to 44.5 million.
“It’s great to see more and more customers are bringing their reusable drink bottles and keep cups on board, and we encourage people to do this – our cabin crew team is happy to fill these,” added Palairet.
Individual plastic sauce packets are also being removed from Business Premier cabins on mainland North America and Hong Kong services, and these will be eliminated entirely from the global network by the end of October, said the airline. Customers will instead be served sauce in reusable dishes, which is expected to prevent around 200,000 plastic packets going to landfill each year.
The airline has already substituted or removed 7.1 million plastic stirrers, 3,000 plastic straws and 260,000 toothbrushes and eye mask wrappers from flights.
Qatar Airways first to achieve IATA wildlife trafficking standard as new ROUTES mapping tool released
Mon 22 July 2019 – The USAID ROUTES Partnership and C4ADS have launched a publicly available mapping tool on wildlife trafficking in the air transport sector. The ROUTES Dashboard provides in-depth and customisable analysis of the trafficking trends, routes and methods associated with wildlife trafficking seizures at airports worldwide. The tool can be used by airlines and airports, enforcement personnel, government agencies and other stakeholders to help strengthen counter-wildlife trafficking policies in the sector. Meanwhile, ROUTES partner Qatar Airways has become the first airline to achieve a new industry standard for the prevention of illegal wildlife trafficking in aviation. The IATA certification confirms an airline has procedures, staff training and reporting protocols in place that make the smuggling of illegal wildlife products more challenging.
The illegal trade in wildlife is worth an estimated $23 billion per year and threatens the survival of some of the world’s most endangered species. Animals and animal products are transported around the globe for trade by traffickers taking advantage of commercial transport services, including aviation. The USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) brings together transport and logistics companies, government agencies, development groups, law enforcement, conservation organisations, academia and donors to disrupt wildlife trafficking activities.
The core group of partners includes the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), Freeland, IATA, TRAFFIC and WWF. ROUTES has published two reports into wildlife trafficking in the air transport sector: ‘Flying Under the Radar’ (2017) and ‘In Plane Sight’ (2018).
The dedicated ROUTES Dashboard website provides graphics on wildlife trafficking through airports between 2009 and 2019 that have been derived from open source wildlife seizure data collected and compiled by C4ADS analysts on a monthly basis. It is sorted into seven wildlife categories: elephant ivory, rhino horn, reptiles, birds, pangolins, marine species and mammals. These seven categories are estimated to account for 81% of known trafficked wildlife and wildlife products.
The researchers admit that analysing trafficking activity using open source seizure data can be problematic as accuracy is dependent on the data source and can be affected by differences in reporting from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Furthermore, seizures only capture trafficking attempts that have been unsuccessful and so could be evidence of effective enforcement efforts rather than high volumes of trafficking activity. However, they say, with the appropriate caveats, the data provides the best available picture of wildlife trafficking through airports.
In addition, the Dashboard includes a Route Risk tool that allows users to input specific flight routes and receive an estimated risk assessment based on the number of previous trafficking attempts along that route. It also has a Country Profile Map that provides a summary of wildlife trafficking information for individual countries.
The new airline industry standard for the prevention of illegal wildlife trafficking in aviation, the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) Assessment, was developed by IATA as part of its IEnvA environmental management and evaluation system for airlines. Compliance with the IWT IEnvA Standards and Recommended Practices (ESARPs) enables airline signatories to the United for Wildlife Buckingham Palace Declaration to demonstrate they have implemented the relevant commitments within the Declaration.
Qatar Airways was one of the inaugural signatories in March 2016 and became a founding member of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce. The airline says it has implemented multiple initiatives to help prevent illegal wildlife transportation activity through its network, such as training employees on how to detect and report suspicious activity and raising passenger awareness of the importance of the issue.
Commenting on the award of the new standard, Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said: “We are proud and honoured to be the first airline recognised by our industry for delivering on the commitments we made at Buckingham Palace. We remain dedicated to this cause and will continue to work with our stakeholders to raise awareness and improve detection of illegal activity.”
Added Lord Hague, Chair of the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce: “Congratulations to Qatar Airways on being the first to achieve this important new certificate, which represents the high standard to which airlines are now being held and is only awarded to those truly taking the necessary measures to combat the illegal wildlife trade.”
Presenting Al Baker with the certificate, IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac said: “The trade in illegal wildlife could rob future generations of some of our most precious and iconic species. Sadly, traffickers take advantage of the air transport networks we have built, and we all share a responsibility to play our part in eradicating this appalling trade.”
Airbus starts carbon-neutral delivery flights of new aircraft to Delta from its US assembly line
Thu 18 July 2019 – The delivery flight of a new Airbus 321 aircraft from the aircraft manufacturer’s final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama to a Delta Air Lines’ facility in Kansas City last week was powered by a biofuel blend. The residual CO2 emissions from the flight are being offset to ensure the flight was carbon-neutral. Delta is partnering with Air BP to supply the biofuel, which is being produced by Neste in Sweden, for an initial 20 carbon-neutral delivery flights from Mobile, with the offsets purchased through the BP Target Neutral programme. Last September, JetBlue became the first Airbus customer to have a delivery flight powered by renewable jet fuel supplied and certified by Air BP. Locally-produced sustainable aviation fuel is not yet available in the southeast of the United States to supply delivery flights, a situation Airbus is looking to help change.
“The carbon-neutral delivery flight is a milestone on Delta’s sustainability journey as we work to cut carbon emissions in half by 2050,” said Alison Lathrop, the airline’s Managing Director – Global Environment, Sustainability and Compliance. “We will explore opportunities to bring this level of sustainability to all delivery flights going forward.”
The deliveries are part of a fleet modernisation programme that will replace 20% of Delta’s mainline narrowbody fleet over the next five years. Since 2005, Delta says it has reduced its jet fuel consumption that in turn has led to a 11% reduction in emissions. It was the first, and still remains the only ahead of the ICAO CORSIA scheme, US airline to voluntarily cap its CO2 emissions at 2012 levels by purchasing carbon offsets.
“We are proud to help Delta achieve its sustainability goals for the maiden voyages of their new Airbus aircraft,” said Air BP CEO Jon Platt. “This is another example of BP’s commitment to advancing the energy transition and helping our customers meet their lower carbon goals. We hope this project inspires others to follow suit.”
Added Simone Rauer, Head of Aircraft Operations for Environmental Affairs at Airbus: “We are committed to being part of the solution for meeting aviation’s global CO2 emissions reduction targets. Contributing to a lasting decrease of our industry’s carbon footprint is key to ensuring a sustainable future for aviation.”
KLM calls on airlines to work closer together for a more sustainable future for aviation
Fri 12 July 2019 – KLM has invited aviation industry stakeholders to join it in working together to pursue a more sustainable future for aviation and launched a campaign called ‘Fly Responsibly’ aimed at customers, employees, corporates and other airlines. The initiative was launched at an event held at Amsterdam Schiphol to mark 100 days before the airline’s 100th anniversary. The airline is offering other airlines without a carbon offsetting programme free incorporation of its CO2ZERO service into their own booking system without KLM branding. KLM is also encouraging its own passengers to compensate for their flight emissions through the service and suggests they use more sustainable modes of transportation, such as the railway, on short destinations. In the recently published Air France-KLM sustainability report, the airline says in 2018, CO2 emissions per passenger were reduced by 17.3% compared to 2011.
“When we started 100 years ago, our major concern was safety. Little did we know about the impact we would have on the environment. Today we know aviation comes with another big responsibility – to make sure our children have a planet to explore as well,” said KLM CEO Pieter Elbers in an open letter.
“For the past 14 years we have been at the top of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. We have made serious progress in weight reductions, recycling and carbon offsetting, and we have invested in the first sustainable fuel plant in Europe. However, we still don’t have all the answers.
“Many other leading airlines have also made great strides. To truly create a sustainable future for aviation, we need to work together and do even more. All airlines, all stakeholders in the aviation industry. And yes, all air travellers too. That is why we kindly ask everyone to join forces.
“We invite the aviation industry to join us in making the world aware of our shared responsibility. We value competition, but we must work together in sustainable aviation. That is why we commit to sharing what we have learned with you and open our best practices to you. Feel free to make use of our certified carbon offset programme. We also invite all air travellers to make responsible decisions about flying.
“Let’s build a sustainable future together.”
When considering travel plans, the KLM ‘Fly Responsibly’ microsite advises KLM customers to offset their flight CO2 emissions by selecting CO2ZERO when booking and so contribute to the ‘CO2OL Tropical Mix’ reforestation initiative in Panama, where 3.5 million trees have so far been planted. The project has been recognised with a Gold Standard for the Global Goals certificate. KLM says nearly 90,000 passengers offset the emissions from their flight in 2018, an increase of almost 50% compared to 2017.
As well as opting for the train on short-haul journeys, a blog by Remona van der Zon, a sustainability manager at KLM, suggests business travellers consider video conferencing over physical meetings. She says KLM wants to share sustainability best practice with other interested airlines and will organise webinars and panel discussions to explore progressing together. The first quarterly webinar is due to take place in early September, which will discuss sustainable fuels along with KLM partner SkyNRG.
The two announced in May a project to build a commercial-scale plant in the Netherlands that is expected to produce 35 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel per year from 2022. KLM believes using sustainable fuel currently has the most impactful change on behalf of the environment. Last month, the airline said it would support the long-haul Flying-V concept aircraft being developed by TU Delft.
According to its Sustainability Report 2018, KLM’s target for 2020 is to reduce CO2 emissions per passenger by 20% compared to 2011. Towards 2030, the KLM Group aims to reduce its total CO2 emissions by 15% compared to 2005, equivalent to a 50% reduction of CO2 per passenger-kilometre. It also has an ambition to achieve a carbon-neutral ground operation by the same year and reduce residual waste by 50% compared to 2011.
Avinor to support new Norwegian sustainable aviation fuel pilot plant while Japan’s ANA signs with LanzaTech
Wed 17 July 2019 – Norwegian airport operator Avinor has entered into an agreement with technology company Qantafuel to purchase sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) made from forestry residues to be produced in a new pilot plant that will be partly funded by state enterprise Enova. Avinor has committed NOK 8 million ($930,000) towards the project’s development. Meanwhile, Japan’s largest airline, All Nippon Airways (ANA), has signed an offtake contract with LanzaTech to purchase its sustainable aviation fuel. Full details of the agreement have not been released but ANA said it is targeting 2021 for first delivery. This follows a partnership the airline agreed last year with Mitsui, which had itself invested $20 million in 2014 towards development of LanzaTech’s advanced micro-organism gas fermentation technology.
Located near Oslo, Qantafuel has developed technology to produce high-quality synthetic fuels and chemical products based on non-recyclable plastic waste. Over the past decade the patented technology converts mixed plastic waste to low-carbon, advanced fuel and chemicals that may be used for new plastic production. Its first plant located in Denmark is in its final stages of development and the company is now turning its attention to the conversion of biomass to liquid fuels.
Qantafuel says the new pilot plant, to be centrally located in eastern Norway, will give it the necessary experience to consider a full-scale plant with a preliminary capacity of 7-9 million litres of fuel per year.
“Aviation in Europe is undergoing major changes, where political decisions driven by environmental concerns are materialising in new mixture requirements that promote bio-based fuel. Qantafuel’s goal is to commercialise its proprietary technologies and this project, in partnership with strong players in Norwegian aviation, is a big step in that direction,” said CEO Kjetil Bøhn.
“With the new agreement, Qantafuel will establish and produce biofuel based on residues from the Norwegian forestry industry. This focus on biomass would not have been possible without the support of Enova and an agreement with Avinor.”
Owned by the Ministry of Climate and Environment, Enova was established to contribute to GHG emission reductions and provide long-term support for technology development, as well as strengthen energy supply security.
The Norwegian aviation industry commissioned a report from consultancy Rambøll and published in 2017 that showed 30%, or 400 million litres, of all jet fuel supplied at Avinor’s airports by 2030 could be sustainable, based on deliveries from the forestry industry (see article).
In January 2016, Oslo Airport became the first international hub to supply SAF on a commercial basis through its normal refuelling infrastructure to airlines and the scheme was extended the following year to include Bergen Airport.
“It is very pleasing that Qantafuel is now taking a new step to contribute to Norwegian resources being used for jet biofuel,” said Avinor Executive Vice President Margrethe Snekkerbakken. “The potential is huge and will in addition to addressing climate impact, also form the basis for increased added value and jobs in Norway. We’re looking forward to the results from the pilot project.”
Meanwhile, ANA said it selected LanzaTech’s industrial waste gas emissions to ethanol product for its “flexibility and high energy density” as well as its lack of sulphur content. The ethanol is converted into jet fuel using technology developed in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Labs (PNNL).
ANA says it is planning to use LanzaTech fuel on a delivery flight later this year.
“ANA has always been guided by our values, and our decision to transition to sustainable aviation fuel reflects how seriously we take our commitment to the environment,” said Akihiko Miura, Executive Vice President of ANA. “Adopting this advanced fuel will allow us to reduce CO2 emissions and meet the ambitious sustainable development goals that we have set for the airline. At ANA, we seek innovative solutions to the most pressing problems, and we will continue looking for ways to reduce our ecological impact in order to create a better world.”
In January 2019, ANA partnered with Showa Shell Sekiyu to purchase 70,000 US gallons of SAF for use on San Francisco flights, which it said would lead to the reduction of around 150 tons of CO2. It has already used SAF produced by World Energy for flights from San Francisco and previously at Los Angeles in conjunction with other airlines but said the January purchase was its first direct contract.
ANA has shown interest in partnering with national initiatives to develop SAF production, including in 2015 with Japanese microalgae company Euglena, which had planned to build a demonstration plant in Yokohama to produce jet biofuel from algae from 2018 but has yet to progress (see article). Also in 2015, ANA joined a Japanese consortium of airline, aviation and other industry organisations, together with academic and government bodies, with the aim of SAF commercial production in time for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo but this initiative also appears to have stalled (see article).
Aircraft electrification: developing a strategy to facilitate greener air travel
Thu 18 July 2019 – The electrification of aircraft, or more electric aircraft, has been an ongoing research and development topic for the past few decades with focus on the electrification of non-propulsive systems of existing and near-future aircraft platforms. These include actuation systems, cabin pressurisation and air conditioning, wing de-icing, electric ground taxiing and electric power generation. Whilst ongoing, much is being developed to make these systems more reliable and lighter in weight. However, in the last few years there has been an acceleration of work into electrification of propulsion, writes Chris Gerada. This has been informed by advancements in electrification technologies such as automotive demonstrating technology feasibility, a greater realisation by stakeholders that electrification of propulsion is a fundamental ingredient in meeting future aviation emission targets and demand for alternative mobility modes.
Electrification of propulsion will impact aircraft platforms in the existing market as well as open opportunities for new platforms in new markets. Electrification of existing platforms is mainly driven by the need for reduced emissions. The technical challenges in doing this range from evolutionary to disruptive, depending on the level of powers and voltages needed.
A regional aircraft might be looking at powers in the megawatt (MW) range and a large aircraft in the tens of MWs. Achieving these requires overcoming significant technical challenges. Many key experts are currently looking into ways of improving current achievable power densities, efficiency and reliability properties.
The other benefit of the electrification of propulsion is greater design freedom brought about by the ability to distribute propulsors across the aircraft. As a result of this new development, we are seeing new aircraft design concepts for personal mobility and cargo, such as autonomous electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, to compete with taxis and other urban ground transportation methods.
Small platforms, such as those described above, have the advantage that the technology is relatively mature compared to high power electrical systems because it is translatable from automotive and existing aircraft electrification technologies. This has seen a myriad of technologically advanced concepts. Whilst there is much improvement to be made from the technological aspect, the key barriers to successful deployment are regulations, airspace management, public perception and successful business models to make them viable.
However, aircraft electrification, together with autonomy, has the potential to improve existing supply chains and create new aerospace market segments and supply chains. This is already evident from the significant R&D investment and activities from the more traditional aircraft industry, from other transportation sectors, especially automotive, and from the range of other mobility-service providers and start-ups.
From a technical development perspective there are significant challenges to develop new technologies, new manufacturing processes, establish new supply chains and new standards. These go hand-in-hand with challenges for testing and certification – there is a lack of infrastructure and facilities to test and demonstrate key electrical propulsion components, sub-systems and their integration into larger systems, especially at high power and voltage levels.
A number of focused and often proprietary facilities have and are being developed. An example is the test bench developed by Safran for eVTOL. Airbus’ E-Aircraft Systems Test House will offer the capability to test MW-level systems and Collins Aerospace Systems’ The Grid will also aim for MW-level power test systems, with Project 804 (hybridisation of a regional turboprop) being one of its first platforms to test.
The University of Nottingham is opening its Power Electronics and Machines Centre in 2020 to test and develop MW-class electrical machines and power electronics. The unique facility will be one of the first non-proprietary platforms able to support the development and testing of electrical machines and power electronics systems for all-electric and hybrid electric aircraft platforms. The UK Aerospace Research Consortium (UK-ARC) is also looking at establishing open, distributed test and development facilities capable of serving the needs of the aerospace industry in this new era of electrified aerospace.
There are technical challenges with eVTOLs but compared to larger aircraft platforms, the main bottlenecks for widespread adoption are regulatory, public perception and business challenges for this market segment. Success and predicted volumes are heavily reliant on investment by governments and city authorities in supporting regulatory frameworks as well as ground infrastructure and compatible mobility models.
These are, however, a clear disruptive technology to current helicopter developers and their supply chains. Many parallels can be drawn to the automotive sector. It is likely that the cargo segment of the market will be a first adopter, which will also help support perception with respect to the safety of these platforms.
For larger propulsive powers the technical challenges are more significant. They require electrical propulsion drive components that operate at significantly higher power densities and efficiencies compared to existing technologies and able to operate within high voltage distribution networks. New concepts for thermal management and aircraft integration are also required. Apart from the technological challenges, the skills pipeline is critical, especially in an environment where there is significant co-current demands on talent from the automotive industry.
In early July, the University of Nottingham’s Institute for Aerospace Technology ran an industry workshop on Solutions for Aircraft Electrification Leadership (SAEL), which aimed at developing a strategy for future electrified aircraft. The first of its kind, the two-day workshop brought together stakeholders from across the globe to collectively understand the key challenges, requirements and potential solutions for future aircraft electrification.
Around 30 experts from across the aviation sector attended including large, regional and small aircraft manufacturers, system integrators, engine manufacturers, electrical component and systems suppliers, propeller manufacturers, regulatory and certification bodies, technology institutes and universities. Workshop delegates came from the UK, Europe, USA and Japan and some of the key reflections are summarised below.
Firstly, some context for the discussions. Air travel is rapidly coming under the spotlight for its pollution footprint, with an airline making the top 10 list of Europe’s largest carbon emitters for the first time. The growth projections of passenger numbers mainly from emerging economies and the relatively slow progress towards electrification compared to other transport sectors have created a sense of determination within the aviation sector to decarbonise air travel.
Objectives from Europe’s Flightpath 2050, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement, are for safer, cleaner, quieter aviation. In order to achieve this, there is an urgency to transition from old to new technology, a move that will require overcoming significant hurdles, both technological and societal. From a technological perspective there are many aspects that require fundamental research, notably the development of electrical power systems which can operate at kilovolt levels; electrical machines and power converters capable of delivering megawatts at a fraction of the weight of state-of-the-art technologies; and batteries and alternative fuels that can store more energy.
From a societal point of view there is the question of safety and reliability. Existing aviation technology is mature and is consequently very reliable and safe due to the years of refinement it has undergone. Moving to new modes of aviation would require transition to emerging technologies that would not have the same levels of reliability and safety if they are to be deployed in a timely fashion to meet emission targets.
The objective of the SAEL workshop was to begin to unpick some of these challenges and to work towards identifying roadmaps to tackle and ultimately overcome these barriers. The workshop delegates were presented with a scenario in which they were required to work together to identify the steps required to electrify a 160-passenger aircraft for a journey from London to Paris. Undertaking this exercise immediately brought to the fore the necessity for close collaboration between all stakeholders.
During the exercise the major challenges were explored and strategies developed for how to tackle aspects such as energy storage and alternative fuels; energy conversion and distribution at high voltage; the nature of the infrastructure needed for aircraft electrification; overcoming current weight challenges in hybrid and all-electric propulsion (existing technologies are too heavy); and the significant technological hurdle of thermal management in electric aircraft, i.e. how to remove heat from electrical components and dispel it elsewhere.
Discussions then moved on to how future aircraft systems would develop their supply chains and the role of the safety and certification authorities in enabling aircraft electrification. The final part of the workshop focused on societal acceptance of electrified aviation and the necessity for public-private partnerships in order to achieve this. We concluded with the programming of regular meetings to push forward with the electrification agenda, establishing a roadmap for prioritisation of development and to act as a catalyst to lobby government and industrial bodies for critical research funding.
We are excited about the next stage of development and the opportunities it will create. As a leader on the development of electrified technologies for future aircraft platforms, the University of Nottingham is ideally placed to play its part. It has the highest level of participation in the flagship EU Clean Sky 2 aviation research programme of any other university involved, and is currently researching key underpinning technologies and developing technology demonstrators with key industrial players in the field.
The University recognises the capability, importance and challenges in this, and has prioritised – as well as investing in – the Propulsion Futures Beacon of Excellence, a multi-million pound flagship programme to develop core technologies for electrified aircraft propulsion.
Chris Gerada is Professor of Electrical Machines and Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Industrial Strategy, Business Engagement and Impact) at the University of Nottingham, UK.
European task force works to maximise environmental benefits of aircraft continuous descent and climb operations
Thu 11 July 2019 – A Continuous Descent Operation (or CDO) is an aircraft operating technique where an arriving aircraft descends with minimum thrust, ideally from top of descent, and avoids level flight to the extent permitted by the safe operation of the aircraft. The descent is performed in compliance with published procedures and ATC instructions. A CDO operation – enabled by airspace and procedure design, and facilitated by ATC – can provide substantial noise, fuel and CO2 savings, reports EUROCONTROL’s David Brain.
A CDO is a natural technique that can be flown by pilots in any aircraft: from an eight-engine behemoth B52 bomber or a single-engine piston aircraft. It is often referred to as being taught as ‘flying lesson number 2’ since the standard descent technique is to pull back the throttle and use the aerodynamics of the wings to glide down the descent path until you need to configure the aircraft for the final approach. ‘Flying lesson number 1’, of course, is teaching the pilot how to take off. Thus, the flying of efficient vertical flight profiles should be ingrained in a pilot’s mentality from day one. Despite being a natural flying technique, it is not always possible to fly a CDO or its departure equivalent, the CCO (Continuous Climb Operation), due to considerable traffic growth and airspace complexity, particularly in Europe.
Previous studies under the banner of SESAR (the Single European Sky ATM Research Programme) – together with individual studies focused on specific airports, city pairs, or airlines – have attempted to quantify what level of environmental savings in terms of noise and emissions are available by flying CCO and CDO compared to non-CCO or non-CDO profiles. On average, these studies concluded the fuel savings from a CDO flight (compared to a non-CDO flight) range anywhere from 50 to 150kg as there are many factors that can have an impact on the level of benefits. Several studies have also demonstrated that CDO can reduce noise by 1-5dB, compared to a non-CDO operation. However, as each study had a separate and local focus it was not previously possible to identify how representative each set of results was, or to extrapolate potential performance benefits to the network level.
In 2016, ICAO concluded a global environmental analysis of the estimated fuel and emissions savings of the global Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBU) framework. That study estimated CCO and CDO were two of the four modules that could provide up to 85% of the expected fuel savings from global ASBU implementation between 2013 and 2019.
European CCO/CDO Task Force
In 2015, a European CCO/CDO Task Force was set up, under the aegis of EUROCONTROL, with the objective of improving European CCO and CDO performance. A review of existing CDO performance measurement practices revealed measurements were often based upon local definitions and measurement criteria that differed from airport to airport. When CDO performance measurements had previously been shared on an international level, different definitions or performance measurement criteria often led to confusion and misunderstanding, generating a picture of European performance that was at best a patchwork approach and at worst providing an inaccurate picture of pan-European CDO performance.
To improve this, the Task Force delivered a set of stakeholder-agreed definitions, metrics and parameters for harmonised pan-European CCO/CDO. These included:
- A harmonised definition of both a noise and a fuel CDO;
- A harmonised definition of both a noise and a fuel CCO; and,
- A harmonised set of metrics and parameters for CCO/CDO measurement relating to average time in level flight.
The definitions highlighted the potential for CCO and CDO to provide both noise and CO2 reduction benefits. The fuel CDO measures the vertical flight efficiency of the whole descent profile from top of descent (fuel CCO measures CCO from ground to top of climb). In contrast, the noise CDO/CCO measures the vertical flight efficiency of lower levels (from FL75 until FL105) and evaluates that part of the descent/climb profile where SESAR considers the primary environmental impact to be noise.
Historically, metrics that have been commonly used to measure CCO/CDO have relied on a percentage achievement level based on a binary indicator of whether there are any periods of level flight or not in a vertical profile. The Task Force considered that such a binary indicator did not reveal the full picture of CCO/CDO performance levels. For example, one unavoidable 30 seconds of level flight for separation or safety purposes should not be considered to have the same performance impact as 10 minutes of level flight to comply with inefficient transfer of control procedures between ATC sectors. The Task Force therefore advocates an indicator based upon time in level flight (seconds) allowing a better identification of the areas of inefficiency.
All agreed definitions and the parameters to measure CCO and CDO can be found on YouTube.
The outcomes of the Task Force have not been designed to interfere with existing national regulatory requirements on CCO/CDO reporting. However, stakeholders are strongly encouraged to follow the harmonised definitions and parameters of the Task Force when measuring and sharing results on CCO/CDO performance at the international or pan-European level in order to allow a harmonised comparison of performance.
Once the Task Force outcomes had been agreed, the first ECAC-wide CCO/CDO study was undertaken in 2018, using the harmonised definitions and parameters for measurement, to identify the current state of implementation and the extent of the benefit pool available from CCO/CDO performance improvements.
The results of the study revealed the following key findings:
- There are significant environmental savings that optimised CCO/CDO can provide;
- The amount of time flown level (a proxy for inefficiency) and consequently the amount of fuel savings available from optimising the descent phase (CDO) is significantly larger (about x10) than the time flown level in the climb phase (CCO) therefore the greatest fuel saving benefits should be enabled by optimising CDO; and,
- The pool of potential performance improvements is much larger for the fuel CDO (CDO from top of descent) compared to low level (noise) CDO with the majority of airports having only minor performance benefits available.
- Based on these results, the Task Force concluded that the focus of improving the performance of the vertical flight efficiency of the climb/descent profiles should be to optimise CDO from top of descent or higher levels wherever possible.
The study estimated the benefit pool in ECAC from optimising CCO/CDO could provide fuel savings of up to 350,000 tonnes per year for the airlines, equivalent to approximately €150 million ($165m) in fuel savings. CO2 savings would be greater than 1 million tonnes. The study also revealed that across Europe, the potential fuel saving benefits from CDO are in the region of ten times greater than those from CCO. Therefore, whilst at certain airports the potential individual benefits from optimising CCO may still be greater than those from CDO, at the European level the primary focus of vertical flight efficiency improvements for the climb and descent profiles should concentrate on optimising the arrival profile, and from top of descent wherever possible.
Challenges to implementation
Why can’t CCO and CDO be flown at all airports all of the time? Improving CCO and CDO performance is not a simple task. The first priority in any ATC system is safety and by its simple definition, separating aircraft for safety reasons either on a one-by-one basis or by de-conflicting multiple traffic flows, sometimes requires aircraft to be deviated horizontally or vertically away from their optimum, or most efficient, trajectory. Add in strong yearly traffic growth, congested airports, complex airspace and other factors such as ATC strikes, restricted airspace, delay minimisation and flow management, mean that an optimised vertical (and horizontal) profile is not an easy task to facilitate and fly.
The CCO/CDO Task Force recognises the barriers that exist to improving CCO/CDO performance in Europe and it is developing a tool kit for CDO performance improvement with the objective to create a step-change in deployment of CCO and CDO over the coming years. The cornerstone of the tool kit is the development of two key deliverables: the updated Joint Industry CDO Action Plan and the new CCO/CDO State of Play Report.
The CDO Action Plan introduces and promotes a set of actions that support a step-change in CDO performance improvement across Europe. These actions range from airspace and procedure design guidance that enable more optimised CCO/CDO, to focused ATCO and pilot training material related to CCO/CDO, together with the introduction of CCO/CDO performance tables for all airports in Europe and all airlines flying in Europe (subject to a minimum number of traffic movements per airport together with availability of the relevant data).
The State of Play Report will support the Action Plan and introduces the factors that may affect optimised CCO/CDO performance. The report aims to increase awareness about CCO/CDO and to support every stakeholder in better understanding the complexity of optimising CCO/CDO. It proposes potential best practice solutions and mitigations to overcome the barriers to CCO/CDO optimisation in European airspace.
The third part of the tool kit will be a set of additional resources that enable stakeholders to implement and optimise CCO/CDO procedures such as:
- Guidance material for implementation, for example ICAO documentation on CCO/CDO and impact assessment guidelines for ATM changes;
- Best practices on CCO/CDO implementation, case studies on implementation and industry developments on CCO/CDO;
- The promotion of operational fora where CCO/CDO implementation can be discussed;
- Support in stakeholder consultation;
- Advice on aircraft energy and flight performance management;
- Support in airspace and procedure design; and,
- Support in training initiatives on CCO/CDO.
Article continues here.
For more information on the different work threads of the European CCO/CDO Task Force click here.
David Brain currently leads EUROCONTROL’s environmental efforts on reducing aviation’s operational impacts and co-chairs the European CCO/CDO Taskforce as well as leading several other European operational projects. David is a member of the ICAO-CAEP Airport and Operations Working Group.