Net zero targets and Covid recovery were on the agenda at day two of Farnborough Connect.

The industry was unanimous in its ambition to reach the target – the challenge was how to get there. UK’s business minister Paul Scully praised the sector’s approach: “By bringing together that innovation and Net Zero ambitions, we can see the UK investing in new technology, making current forms of aircraft green as well and the investment in new low and zero emission, forms of propulsion hybrid electric and fully electric flight. And these are really exciting technologies. And that does promise what that low carbon future for UK worldwide aviation might look like.”

CTOs discuss the route to net zero

Chief Technology Officers from the leading OEMs got together to discuss the realities of the route to net zero and the innovations needed to achieve it in a roundtable session. Airbus, GE, Boeing, Safran, Rolls-Royce and Raytheon Technologies outlined how their companies were reducing emissions At the same time as the discussion was taking place, the EU was unveiling a multi-lateral climate strategy to reduce carbon emissions.

Sabine Klauke, Chief Technical Officer of Airbus said: “Decarbonizing aviation is a significant goal for all of us around the table today. We’re all agreed on that. We clearly have the right level of ambition knows to accelerate and progress in the regulatory framework in the public policy support. And as in the technology pathways to secure the industrial ramp up and to ensure economic efficiency.”

Aviation will lead to way with sustainable fuels

Paul Stein of Rolls-Royce added that the road to net zero would require collaboration – not just from aviation – but other industries: “There’s huge scope for innovation here. I think it’s almost dangerous thinking of 2021 outlook on the ramp up of sustainable fuels because I’m convinced, within the next 10 years. It’s a massive industry and don’t forget in aviation we use pretty much the same chemical formula, as we do for agricultural diesel or home heating. So the amount of innovation that’s going into this area is massive. And we in aviation will be leaders but also benefit from other industries using it.”

A session on future engineering in propulsion identified the significant challenges for others outside of aviation to solve. Pratt & Whitney’s Michael Winter said: “We have opportunities. So the challenges are to scale up the sustainable aviation fuel. The challenge is that there isn’t any hydrogen available today. And that hydrogen that is available, isn’t made from green sources, right? So there are other industries that will face these challenges to bring scale and to bring infrastructure so that we can bring it forward in our industry.

Disjointed approach from governments hinders airline recovery

Covid has had a devastating effect on airlines and former British Airways, and IAG CEO, now Director General of IATA, Willie Walsh said the disjointed approach from governments was no aid to recovery. “If you were dealing with a health issue, you would have a harmonised approach to the virus the same no matter what country you’re dealing with. [What] we’re dealing with here is a political issue and that’s why you’re you’re getting a disjointed approach, because each government is assessing how their voters will respond to their actions.”

CEO and founder of Anglo-Indian airline FlyPop, Nino Singh Judge argued that double vaccinated freedoms were the answer. “If you’re double vaccinated, you should be afforded more freedoms and encourages people to get vaccinated. I know there’s a, there’s a huge amount of people in my diaspora who don’t want the vaccination. Well, if you don’t want the double vaccinations, then you’re not going to be able to travel home.”

Walsh added a “data driven approach” would be critical – influencing whether restrictions and more stringent safety measures would be imposed or reduced.

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