Lightweight materials, flying wings, hybrid laminar flow control and water injection will help reduce aircraft emissions to below year 2000 levels by 2050 despite a projected fourfold increase in passenger kilometres flown, say experts.

These and other technologies are expected to deliver fuel-burn reductions ranging from 12% to 36% each, according to a report by the science and technology sub-group of the UK’s Greener by Design industry/academia/government group.

Lighter materials are expected to deliver 12% reductions, and flying wing airliner designs could deliver 36%. Water injection in engines can increase thrust and hybrid laminar flow control – which involves boundary layer suction – can reduce drag, says the report. “There really does appear to be a possibility that aviation’s impact on climate in 2050 will be less than in 2000,” says John Green, chairman of Greener by Design’s science and technology sub-group.

Source: Flight International