The efficient management of air traffic and airspace has a “big role to play” in helping the aviation industry reduce its environmental impact, said Marylin Bastin, who leads Eurocontrol’s Aviation Sustainability team.

Bastin supports research programmes to reduce the impact of noise, CO2 and other emissions, as well as condensation trails.

Her team operates the EU’s Emissions Trading Systems (ETS) and CORSIA, a global scheme for offsetting CO2 emissions from aviation adopted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

She also supports facilities to help national authorities and aircraft operators meet their reporting obligations.

ATM has ‘big role to play’

Speaking to FINN, Bastin said: “The EU mandate for sustainable aviation fuel is only 6%, but it’s already quite challenging. ATM [Air Traffic Management] now has a big role to play.

“In our last two studies, we showed that we could [reduce emissions] by between 8% and 10%, meaning that there was a lot of potential from an ATM point of view that could be achieved. It’s why we push this a lot.”

While there are efficiencies to be gained through improved ATM, Bastin also believes there is “room for improvement” with more efficient aircraft.

Boeing and Airbus are working on next-generation aircraft with a widely assumed minimum fuel efficiency improvement of around 30% over the latest aircraft types being produced today.

Green financing to bring down emissions

Key to this is access to the financing to allow airlines to buy or lease cleaner, less polluting aircraft.

Bastin said: “Accelerating fleet renewal is key, but to activate fleet renewal you need the aviation sector to get access to green financing.

“It is really important now that we stop blaming the aviation sectors at all times that they can’t decarbonise, because by doing this the banks and the investors are less and less willing to give money to the aviation sector.

“This is really counterproductive because we really need to invest as early as possible to accelerate the decarbonisation of the aviation sector.

“We need to help them, so we need to ensure that we can get access to enough green financing in such a way that we can speed up all the decarbonisation processes that we know will work. This is pretty essential.”

Eurocontrol is helping to lower aviation emissionsEurocontrol has been a proponent of the adoption of sustainable aviation fuels, and the integration of new entrants, such as UAVs and flying taxis.

In reality, a combination of all of these, and more, will be required to solve the challenge of truly sustainable aviation and bring down emissions, she said.

“I really believe that we need all of the solutions at the same time. It’s not about one which is going to take over the other, but clearly sustainable aviation fuel is the most promising one by 2050 just because we know how to produce it and it can be used by the existing fleet,” Bastin said. “This is really the key with sustainable innovation.”
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