By John Mandyck, Chief Sustainability Officer for UTC
As incomes rise with the global middle class growing from 25 percent today to 60 percent in 2030, the remaining 82 percent of the world who have yet to step foot on an airplane will start flying in big numbers. So big the number of commercial airplanes is expected to double to around 44,000 in the next 20 years. Conventionally speaking, more air travel means an increase in carbon dioxide emissions from airplanes. But must it? I don’t think so.
Last week I released a white paper with Dr. Alan Epstein from jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney. The paper details exciting new trends in green aviation technology that can allow the tremendous growth in air travel to happen more sustainably. With new international carbon dioxide regulations just adopted for airplanes, green aviation technologies must now lead the way.
Earlier this month, the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) passed the world's first carbon dioxide emissions-reduction mandate for air travel. This is the COP21 Paris climate treaty equivalent for aviation. The new ICAO regulations:
Typically, equipment manufacturers have improved fuel efficiency and carbon reduction by 1 to 1.5 percent on an annual basis. Enhancing gas turbine technology can increase that by at least a half percent. That’s a huge number! What’s more, Pratt & Whitney just released its Geared Turbofan engine that reduces carbon emissions by 16 percent, particulate emissions by 50 percent and noise footprint by 75 percent.
Although I see the realities and challenges of climate change and sustainability every day, I am encouraged by the knowledge that we can make a difference in just a few short decades. It is certainly promising to see that we have the resources and technology in sight to meet the international regulations set by ICAO.
Sustainability indeed works.
Image credit: ©2016 United Technologies Corporation, reproduced with permission, all rights reserved.
John Mandyck is the Chief Sustainability Officer at United Technologies Corporation (UTC).
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