In an effort to contribute towards sustainable development, the aerospace and defense industry has adopted a number of green initiatives through strategies aimed at reducing carbon footprint. The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) has unveiled a four-pillar strategy that outlines guidelines for activities aimed at lowering fuel consumption and emissions.
A report from Frost & Sullivan titled, ‘Greener Flight to Future - Investment Opportunities’ reveals that the 8.5% reduction in carbon dioxide emission in the aviation sector in 2009 was largely due to reduced air trafficking due to the recession, with only 2% contribution from energy efficiency improvements. The IATA believes that deploying enhanced technology, fortifying infrastructure, and streamlining operations, can significantly promote carbon-neutral growth in light of the anticipated 5.2% growth in air traffic.
The green strategies of the aviation industry include reducing the weight of aircrafts, upgrading of engines, improving aircraft design and the right use of economic instruments. Including aviation in the European Union's Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) is also seen as a driver for reducing significant levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Green aviation strategies also include the deployment of fuel-efficient aircraft engines, replacement of crude oil-based fuel with alternatives and replacement of mechanical and pneumatic power systems with electrical ones. Though the fuel cell technology is in its early stage, its application is expected to bring a drastic reduction in the environmental hazards. Factors determining the success of this technology in aviation applications include compatibility with current infrastructure, technical viability, guarantee of supply and other economic aspects in the operational context.
The strategies, however, are capital intensive and demand large investments in R&D, deterring their implementation to a large extent. Government and regulatory support is expected to expedite the process of technological adaptation of the electrical power system, by means of providing adequate incentives.