Saving the planet

Doom and gloom predictions that the anticipated boom in air travel will be a major factor in climate change are wide of the mark, according to UK aviation technology group Greener by Design. It insists that advances in airframe and engine technologies will, in fact, contribute to a drop in aviation emissions by 2050 to well below 2000 levels.

Greener by Design boasts members ranging from manufacturers to government agencies and research institutions. They include Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Cambridge and Cranfield universities and research body QunetiQ.

According to the group’s chairman John Green: “Relative to 2000 world fleet fuel burn and CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre in 2050 could be reduced by a factor of 3, NOx emissions at altitude by a factor of 10 and contrail and cirrus cloud formation by a factor of between five and fifteen.”

You could argue that, well they would say that, wouldn’t they? To achieve such ambitious targets any technological advances would need to be accompanied by operational improvements and air traffic management developments aimed at reducing contrails, which in certain conditions go on to develop into cirrus clouds -  a little understood aspect of climate change and the subject of a considerable amount of research.

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