“Delivering aviation’s sustainability agenda”: Aerospace manufacturers pledge net zero by 2050

Chief technology officers (CTOs) of seven aerospace manufacturers have issued a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to achieving “more sustainable aviation” and to reaching industry-wide Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) targets.

The CTOs of Airbus, Boeing, Dassault Aviation, GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce and Safran said they would work together on three core areas of aviation technology as part of a shared position to meet the sector’s net zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

The three areas highlighted are:

  • advancing the “state-of-the-art” in aircraft and engine design and technology;
  • supporting increased availability and adoption of sustainable aviation fuel and investigating hydrogen as a fuel of the future; and,
  • continuing to develop novel technologies that will eventually enable net-zero carbon aviation while maintaining the safety and quality standards of the industry.

They also committed to issuing a call to action to policymakers, research institutions, suppliers, fuel producers and airport operators to “build on the progress made in recent years” and “deliver on the aviation sector’s sustainability agenda”.

In the joint statement, the CTOs of each company called for:

  • a sustained and planned approach from policymakers to support the development of novel technologies and stimulate the ramp-up of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and green hydrogen production capacity;
  • a globally consistent approach to regulation and certification standards;
  • collaboration between research institutions and aerospace suppliers in the development of the new technologies;
  • investment in SAF production capacity by fuel producers; and,
  • investment by airport operators in the infrastructure required to support novel aviation technologies.

On 4 October, the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) director general Willie Walsh called for collective efforts from across the aviation industry in order to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Achieving sustainable global connectivity cannot be accomplished on the backs of airlines alone,” Walsh said. “All parts of the aviation industry must work together within a supportive government policy framework to deliver the massive changes that are needed, including an energy transition.

“That is no different than what we are seeing in other industries. Road transport sustainability efforts, for example, are not being advanced by drivers building electric vehicles.

“Governments are providing policies and financial incentives for infrastructure providers, manufacturers and car owners to be able to collectively make the changes needed for a sustainable future. The same should apply to aviation.”

Source: IATA

Airline members of IATA approved a resolution to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 at IATA’s 77th Annual General Meeting at the beginning of this month, which it said brings air transport in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C.

The not-for-profit organisation estimates 10 billion passenger journeys will take place in 2050, meaning the industry will need to abate 1.8 gigatons of carbon by then to meet net zero targets.

The aviation industry currently accounts for approximately 2.5 per cent of all man-made CO2 emissions.

Source: IATA

In its ‘Fly Net Zero’ report, IATA outlines a combination of measures to achieve net zero. These include sustainable aviation fuel, operation and infrastructure improvements, and offsetting and carbon capture.

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