EBACE2023 Panel: More Transparency Could Help Business Aviation Decarbonize

Moderator: Marylin Bastin, Panelists: Nancy Bsales, Curt Epstein, Patrick Müry, Bruce Parry

24 May 2023

Business aviation has made progress toward its commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, according to a panel of five industry experts at the 2023 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE2023). But much more still needs to be done, they said, to fight skepticism and doubt surrounding the road map to decarbonization.

The various strategies and solutions operators can choose from to reduce emissions can be confusing. They include book-and-claim, carbon offsets, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and others, which can all be utilized effectively under various circumstances in infinite combinations.

“The thing is, when I think, ‘Which basket of solutions should we use here?” That’s not the right question. The question really should be: ‘What’s good for the particular operator?’” said Bruce Parry, senior adviser, industry affairs for Bombardier, who has an extensive background in environmental engineering.

Education and Verification

Curt Epstein, a senior editor at AIN Media Group, said the public needs better information about the differences and definitions of the various tools in the sustainability toolbox. “What’s also needed is transparency [about the various options and what they mean], explained in a way that the public understands, and is simple.

“People have got to understand that there’s a type of accounting for these things,” he added. “It’s not just some made up numbers. The money put into carbon offset programs is actually verified.”

4AIR, an aviation sustainability program, recently announced the launch of a global SAF registry aimed at tracing and documenting every gallon of fuel.

“There has to be an understanding of the feedstock for the blend and the location that the feedstock came from and where it’s being put,” said 4AIR COO Nancy Bsales, whose career includes more than 15 years as a strategist in voluntary markets for sustainability, including carbon offsets and carbon accounting.

But high prices are forcing many operators to delay purchasing SAF for now to buy less expensive carbon offsets instead.

Another way operators effectively increase sustainability is by finding internal efficiencies in their own operations that can add up to significant reductions in carbon emissions.

“We’ve found that a good investment today is simply training with flight planning software,” said Patrick Müry, a sustainability officer and Falcon 2000LXS first officer at Zurich-based CAT Aviation. “Sometimes you can find a more efficient route that saves 1,000 pounds of fuel for one route as well.”

The moderator of the discussion, Marylin Bastin, head of aviation sustainability at Eurocontrol, agreed that fuel-saving routes could also help the industry get to net zero. “We need airlines to share some data in such a way that we are able to know what are the most optimized trajectories,” she said.

Although operators may have different ways of improving their sustainability and reducing carbon emissions, they’re all aiming for the same overall goal.

“I’m a big believer that business aviation will be the first industry to be truly net zero,” said Bsales. “We have the innovation, and we are the people who want to move this forward.”