Aircraft produce the same types of emissions as cars and trucks. In particular, aircraft jet engines produce carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor (H2O), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), oxides of sulfur (SOx), unburned or partially combusted hydrocarbons (also known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs), particulates, and other trace compounds. Aircraft engine emissions are roughly composed of about 70 percent CO2, a little less than 30 percent H2O, and less than 1 percent each of NOx, CO, SOx, VOC, particulates, and other trace components.

As with surface vehicles, aircraft produce carbon dioxide through combustion of petroleum-based fuel. Aircraft can have complex effects on climate through contrail formation and by emitting water vapor into the dry stratosphere. Aviation accounts for about 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation in the U.S., or about 2.7 percent of total national greenhouse gas emissions.

Change is coming as the industry works to come to terms with climate change, but, by all measures, it will be slow. A wide range of technologies and innovations are being designed in a bid to tackle aviation’s environmental footprint. For example,

  • NASA is researching ideas that could lead to the development of electric propulsion-powered aircraft, which would be quieter, more efficient and environmentally friendly than today's commuter aircraft.
  • The U.S. Air Force's Agility Prime program is working with private industry to explore building innovative aircraft, such as “flying taxis”, also being developed by United Airlines.
  • Emitting 90% less carbon dioxide than a standard airplane, blimps are also coming. Bill McKibben found the best description of what they might feel like, in a new world of aviation, in Kim Stanley Robinson’s brilliant sci-fi novel, The Ministry for the Future. "In the novel", he writes "that takeoff felt strange, lofting up over the bay, bouncing a little on the wind, not like a jet, not like a helicopter. Strange but interesting. Dynamic lift; the electric motors, on sidecars up the sides of the bag, could get them to about two hundred kilometers an hour over the land, depending on the winds.”



Ionblox: The Battery Startup Ready To Change The World

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You may have noticed that there is a battery race going on right now. If you can make fast-charging, compact, easy-to-produce, and cheap batteries, then the world is your oyster. This has led to plenty…
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NASA Awardees to Develop Sustainable Aviation Composite Tech

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Startup inks $65M deal to help Air Force make ‘sustainable’ jet fuel on bases

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Carbon Calculating: Understanding Your Airline Travel Impact

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Carbon Calculating: Understanding Your Airline Travel Impact

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Reducing travel for business and family visits is one of the most impactful choices we can make to reduce our climate impact. When we travel, we should make it count, but we can’t do that…
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Boeing Doubles Sustainable Aviation Fuel Purchase for Commercial Operations, Buying 5.6 Million Gallons for 2023

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The no-jet set: they’ve given up flying to save the planet

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Fully autonomous passenger planes are inching closer to takeoff

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The world's biggest commercial aircraft makers seem increasingly convinced that autonomous passenger flight is a question of when, not if.
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Zeroavia Makes History With Largest Hydrogen-electric Powered Aircraft

By Brantsen Gill 01/30/23
On Thursday, January 19, 2023, ZeroAvia successfully flew the world's largest hydrogen-electric powered aircraft. The 19-seat Dornier 228 departed from Cotswold Airport in the UK at 1:53 p.m. local time and completed tests at 2,000…
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JFK Airport’s New Terminal One Gets a Solar Boost

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John F. Kennedy International Airport’s New Terminal One will get the largest rooftop solar array on any US airport — part of a set of sustainability features aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and blunting…
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NASA Issues Award for Greener, More Fuel-Efficient Airliner of Future

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Pure Electric

Meet Alice, the world’s first all-electric commuter aircraft. Built to make flight the sustainable, affordable, quiet solution to regional travel.

White House targets 20% lower aviation emissions by 2030

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FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Advances the Future of Sustainable Fuels in American Aviation

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DHL Orders 12 Electric Cargo Planes

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new tri-wing aircraft concept by SE aeronautics could revolutionize commercial aviation

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All-Electric Air Mobility

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Boeing jets emissions data highlights industry’s green challenge

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Which Flight You Choose Has a Huge Impact on Emissions

Air travel has an undeniable carbon footprint: some estimates suggest roughly 2.4% of global carbon dioxide emissions come from commercial aviation and passenger aircraft emissions increased 33% between 2013 and 2019.12

Climate change: Airbus aims for ‘climate-neutral’ flights by 2035

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United Airlines to buy 100, 19-seat electric planes from Heart Aerospace

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San Diego International Airport Goes 100% Renewable Electricity

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Blimp Comeback: Are Eco-Friendly, Electric-Powered HAVs Here To Stay?

The blimp, forever besmirched due to the Hindenburg explosion in 1937—when one of the first commercial blimps caught on fire—never really fulfilled its potential as a commuting vehicle.


GE, Safran developing cleaner energy aircraft engines that could work with hybrid technology, hydrogen

By Leslie Josephs   06/14/21  
General Electric’s aviation unit and its joint venture partner Safran of France on Monday said they are developing new airplane engines that aim to cut emissions by more than a fifth of today’s levels. GE…
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What Is a Flying Car?

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It was sleek, cone-shaped, a little confusing — like something Hollywood would give a sci-fi villain for a quick getaway. It wasn’t a helicopter. And it wasn’t an airplane. It was a cross between the…
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We Don’t Need Supersonic Travel—in the “New Normal,” We Should Slow Down

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United Airlines’ Supersonic Jet Is a Bad Idea

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United Airlines announced this week that it will purchase at least 15 supersonic Overture jets, at $200 million a pop, from a startup called Boom, which—having yet to put a single one of its fast…
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Blimp Promises Low-Carbon Air Traveling

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A British company plans to start flying a 100-seat airship by 2025, offering passengers sustainable inter-city transportation and some amazing views. Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) envisions covering routes 200 to 300 miles away, such as…
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The worst of the pandemic may be over for airlines, but the industry faces another looming crisis: an accounting over its contribution to climate change. The industry is under increasing pressure to do something to…
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Airships for city hops could cut flying’s CO2 emissions by 90%

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For those fancying a trip from Liverpool to Belfast or Barcelona to the Balearic Islands but concerned about the carbon footprint of aeroplane travel, a small Bedford-based company is promising a surprising solution: commercial airships.…
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Electric aircraft maker BETA gets $368 million to become the alpha of aviation

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For countless executives and salespeople, business trips have been a bedrock of corporate life — loathed by some, loved by others but accepted by all as a necessity (sweetened by millions of frequent flyer miles).…
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This New 8-Seat Electric Airplane Costs 80% Less to Fly Than Conventional Aircraft

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Aviation global warming forcing is worse than just CO2 emissions

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United Partners with Corporate Customers to Fund Sustainable Aviation Fuel

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Airlines have been talking about sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs) for about as long as people have been conversing about the impact of flying on the climate. Given the limited supply of waste fuel stocks, the…
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United Airlines to Lead Industry Switch to Sustainable Aviation Fuel with Global Corporations, Customers

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Is Elon Musk About To Make The Aviation Industry Obsolete?

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Elon Musk tends to revolutionise industries; just look at PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX. Is he poised to do the same thing with the aviation industry? And are his plans to send us to Mars just…
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Electric airplanes are getting tantalizingly close to a commercial breakthrough

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For $140,000, you can fly your own electric airplane. The Slovenian company Pipistrel sells the Alpha Electro, the first electric aircraft certified as airworthy by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2018. It’s a welterweight at just 811 pounds (368…
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‘Tip of the iceberg’: Aviation emissions three times larger than current estimates, scientists warn

By Cecilia Keating   11/27/20  
The analysis published this week by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) analysed the climate impacts of contrails - the line-shaped clouds produced by engine exhaust - in addition to the nitrous oxide (NOx), soot and…
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The airline industry has a super-emitter problem

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Recently there’s been a lot of talk about the climate impact of air travel, with terms like flygskam, or “flight shame,” entering the common lexicon. What doesn’t get as much attention is how responsibility for aviation…
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Electric Aviation Could Be Closer Than You Think

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In 2019 air travel accounted for 2.5 percent of global carbon emissions, a number that could triple by 2050. While some airlines have started offsetting their contributions to atmospheric carbon, significant cutbacks are still needed.…
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Airbus announces concept designs for zero-emission, hydrogen-powered airplanes

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They include an aircraft that would use turbofan engines and carry between 120 and 200 passengers. With a range of more than 2,000 nautical miles, it would be powered using what the company described as…
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JetBlue is the First U.S. Airline to Commit to and Achieve Carbon Neutrality for All Domestic Flying

Preparing for a New Climate Reality, JetBlue Begins Offsetting Emissions for All Domestic Flights and Investing in Sustainable Aviation Fuel, Significantly Reducing its Contribution to the Climate Crisis --
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Can airplanes go green?

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When Val Miftakhov touched down at Cranfield Airport in England last month, his Piper Malibu Mirage six-seater became the first commercial-grade, zero-emission airplane to fly in Europe.
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EPA Proposes First-Ever Limits On Carbon Dioxide From Airlines

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It's the first time the Trump administration is adding rules on carbon dioxide. But it isn't a sudden change of heart on climate.
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World’s largest all-electric aircraft set for first flight

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Airlines could get free pass on climate for five years under industry proposal

By Chloé Farand   05/26/20  
The industry is lobbying to rewrite the rules of a UN aviation pact, in a move researchers say would remove pressure to invest in clean flying technology The post Airlines could get free pass on…
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CORSIA: Industry-sought rule change threatens aviation climate program

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California’s experience with buyer liability shows how aviation can help ensure environmental integrity

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The International Civil Aviation Organization is preparing to stand up its market-based emissions reduction program, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA. As it does so, ICAO must maintain CORSIA’s environmental…
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Why electric planes haven’t taken off yet

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Could the flight shaming movement take off in the U.S.? JetBlue thinks so.

The airline is the first American carrier planning to purchase “offsets” for carbon emissions from all domestic flights, a move some activists denounce as a stunt....
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Neste leads the pack in sustainable jet fuel production

In a bid to decarbonize commercial air travel, Neste U.S. is becoming the largest producer of sustainable jet fuel in the world....
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