OEMs Share Perspectives on Decarbonizing Bizav at EBACE Newsmakers Event

22 May 2023

Leaders of six major business aircraft OEMs met on stage at the 2023 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE2023) to discuss their efforts to decarbonize the industry and work toward the goal of net-zero carbon emissions from business aviation by 2050.

“Business aviation has always been at the forefront of innovation and technology,” Juergen Wiese, chair of EBACE2023 co-host EBAA, said at a 22 May Newsmakers Luncheon. “We must make sure we remain an incubator … and come together collaboratively with the next generation workforce to [make] tangible progress” toward sustainability.

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), derived from renewable feedstocks and waste products, holds the greatest potential to reduce aviation carbon emissions in the near-term. While SAF availability has improved, particularly across Europe, it remains relatively difficult to find in most regions.

“There is sort of a chicken-and-egg situation for some potential suppliers,” said Airbus Corporate Jets President Benoit Defforge. “We are partnering with some of them already to produce more [SAF] as other industries start to provide more feedstock. We need to pull the demand and to find a solution together.”

Nevertheless, “business aviation will be the first [industry] to use large quantities of SAF,” said Éric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation. “It’s not just about using SAF, but also about optimized flight routing. Maybe they can fly a little bit slower. We are developing tools to help our customers in that direction.”

Business aviation also is leading the way in other areas, from designing lighter and more efficient airframes and cleaner-burning engines to utilizing direct routing to reduce travel times and fuel burn.

“Technology leads to sustainability,” said Michael Amalfitano, president and CEO of Embraer Executive Jets. “As we continue to advance our products and our services to support those advancements, it’s a really strong commitment by all the OEMs to continue to create a more efficient aircraft and a more efficient manufacturing operation.”

Moderator: Lisa Stark, Panelists: Éric Trappier, Eric Martel, Benoit Defforge, Mark Burns, Joe Benson, Michael Amalfitano

“Each successive generation of airplane is 15 to 25% more efficient and that means lower emissions as well,” added Boeing Business Jets CEO Joe Benson. “More direct routing saves another 10%, right there. So, there are a lot of things we can do right now.”

While these OEMs compete for customers, Bombardier President and CEO Eric Martel noted they also have collective impact. “We cannot do this ourselves, but having all the OEMs pushing the entire industry is significant,” he said. “We’ve reduced emissions by 50% since the 1960s, so we do have that history.”

Operators also have other options when SAF isn’t available. “Book-to-claim is a real thing,” Martel said. “You can put it on your jet today. It works. It’s auditable. As we talk about the future, [let us] also talk concretely about what you can do now.”

Gulfstream Aerospace President Mark Burns emphasized the importance of presenting facts to “take the emotion out of the moment” in the increasingly contentious environmental debate and find solutions without government intervention.

“I have less concern about our ability to solve this than I do about a knee jerk reaction,” he said. “We could [be forced by regulation to] implement something that is unattainable. It’s why I think we as an industry want to help shape the decision making, so that it incentivizes us to continue to solve the problem.”

Ed Bolen, president and CEO of EBACE2023 co-host NBAA, reiterated the significance of competing OEMs collaborating on a common, and significant, goal.

“Business aviation has been in the forefront of sustainability for a long time,” he said. “As a result of the leadership of our manufacturers, we made a long-term commitment in 2009 to reduce carbon emissions – and then, that same group of OEMs came together in 2021 and said, ‘we can do better.’”