Business Aviation Key to Developing New Green Technologies

Electric Aircraft

19 May 2021

Business aviation has established itself as a pivotal sector in the European Union’s effort to reduce aviation’s environmental impact, according to industry experts on the EBACE Connect panel “Sustainability: Hydrogen or Electrification – Are We Ready?”

Moderator Rohit Jaggi, a deputy editor at the Financial Times, noted that while aviation accounts for just 2% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, the industry is committed to reducing this footprint and meeting the goals of initiatives like the European Green Deal, which targets net-zero greenhouse gas emissions for the EU by 2050. And, according to the expert panel, business aviation is essential to reaching this goal.
“The business aviation sector is well-placed to help the aviation industry in this journey because it was the first sector to really care about reducing emissions by designing aircraft that reduced fuel consumption and making them the best possible examples for testing new technologies,” said Sebastiano Fumero, the European Commission’s head of future low emission industries.

Dr. Anita Sengupta, CEO founder of Hyrdoplane Ltd, a company developing an aviation-specific hydrogen fuel cell, concurred with this assessment. “I think that business aviation has the unique ability to bring about the investment and the interest in these new green aviation technologies,” she said. “Whether it is sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), electrification of aircraft for shorter-range flights, urban air mobility or the retrofitting of single-engine aircraft with hydrogen fuel cells, business aviation will play a key role in that use.”

While some technologies are in their infancy, others like SAF, can help aviation make an immediate impact on greenhouse gas emission, noted Dr. Patricia Parlevliet, senior research project leader at Airbus’s Blue Sky research center, although she pointed out that investment in these technologies is needed for them to have an impact.

“Scale-up in the short-term is one of the largest challenges for sustainability,” said Parlevliet. “There are plenty of sources for SAF… but what I constantly recognize is that money is needed to facilitate the scale-up of sustainable aviation fuels. It’s sometimes difficult to go from laboratory scale to a higher quantity of sustainable aviation fuels because scaling up can uncover problems not seen in the lab. We need pilot plans to resolve these issues, and these pilot plans are missing.”

Despite such challenges, the aviation industry will successfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions, noted Parlevliet. “At Airbus Blue Sky we are convinced that a carbon-neutral aviation industry is not only possible, it also is achievable within our lifetime,” she said.