Record temperatures at the Farnborough Airshow this week have ratcheted up pressure on global aviation to shrink airplane emissions and turn a raft of potential solutions – many of which are yet to be proven – into reality.
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Better batteries, lighter-weight materials and other innovations — plus huge capital investments — are opening the door to novel and lower-emissions transportation solutions like flying taxis, drones and seagliders.
One day late in 2023 an almost-empty commercial airliner is expected to lift off on a trans-Atlantic flight between Britain and the United States that Prime Minister Boris Johnson casts as a once in a generation breakthrough for aviation and the battle against climate change.
Sergey Brin turned internet search into one of the world’s most valuable businesses more than two decades ago. Now he intends to improve a technology which had its heyday long before he was born. Brin and his team of engineers’ plan is to do this by reinventing a much older, if improved technology. A new generation of airships – the lighter-than-air craft that don’t need conventional airports – will be built in a corner of Ohio which played a unique part in the history of aviation. What’s more, if built they will be housed in one of America’s most iconic structures, the Goodyear Airdock in Akron.
Imagine avoiding that soul-crushing, hourlong slog — say from Santa Monica to downtown L.A. on a Tuesday morning. Instead, you hail a high-tech cab that will hop over the gridlock and get you there in nine minutes.
Could a similar scenario now play out in the real universe, minus the faster-than-light engines? Atmospheric scientist Christopher Maloney believes so. In a new study, he and his colleagues modeled how black carbon belched out by rocket launches around the world is likely to gradually warm parts of the middle atmosphere and deplete the ozone layer. They published their findings on June 1 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.
Why it matters: Aviation is a rapidly growing source of greenhouse emissions, including carbon dioxide, and has not been subjected to federal regulations under the Clean Air Act or other statutes.
A report commissioned by the climate charity Possible assessed every target set by the industry since 2000 and found that nearly all had been missed, revised or quietly ignored. The charity says the findings undermine a UK government plan to leave airlines to reduce their emissions through self-regulation.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. airports have launched an Airport Climate Challenge to help achieve the Biden-Harris Administration goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Airports can take advantage of several FAA funding programs to meet this goal, including grants for low- or zero-emissions vehicles, renewable energy production, energy assessments and other efforts. The challenge is one of a number of initiatives underway to meet the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of a net-zero aviation system by 2050.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian, who left the company briefly in 2005, loves to tell the story about why he quit. At the time, Delta was pursuing a discount strategy that he didn’t like. Not long after he returned, Delta made aggressive moves for premium traffic, which has made it considerable money since with new efforts under way.