• NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolan addresses the conference on sustainability in business aviation. (NBAA)
    NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolan addresses the conference on sustainability in business aviation. (NBAA)

Business aviation leaders in the USA this week pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, reaffirming a stance the industry took over 10 years ago.

The heads of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) and the General Aviation Manufacturer's Association (GAMA) all reinforced the commitment made under the Business Aviation Commitment on Climate Change made in 2009, when the industry said it would reduce carbon emissions 50% by 2050, increase fuel efficiency 2% per year from 2010 to 2020, and achieve carbon-neutral growth by 2020.

“I’m incredibly proud to say that the industry is on track to meet or exceed those goals,” NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said at the NBAA conference in Las Vegas this week.

“This is a testament to the value of a unified partnership among operators, manufacturers, fuelers, service providers and many others. With our collective focus and determination, we can achieve carbon-neutrality in our lifetimes.”

GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce said technology advancements would be a key component to reaching the milestone, pointing to lighter materials, reduction of parts, propulsion innovation, composite materials, advanced metal alloys, skin coatings and active winglets as areas where further improvements will have an impact. 

“As higher blends of SAF [Sustinable Aviation Fuel] become approved for production, we will be able to further optimise fuel efficiency through technological advancements to achieve our environmental goals,” Bunce said. “Our industry also has a proven track record of capitalising upon innovations in the air traffic control infrastructure to further reduce emissions.

"Additionally, dramatic improvements in avionics and data communications capabilities will increase operational contributions to reducing emissions. When merged with the exciting new designs employing electric distributed propulsion, hydrogen and SAF hybrid aircraft, we are confident innovation will keep us marching toward our net-zero goals.”

Many aircraft manufacturers have sustainability programs in place, whether it be adopting SAF for turbine engines or developing electric power plants. Diamond Aircraft this week announced the eDA40 program and Tecnam has an electric version of the 11-seat P2012 Traveller underway.

Business jet and helicopter manufacturers around the world are introducing new designs with better fuel efficiency, whilst other companies such as ZeroAvia and VoltAero have been established for the express purpose of building clean-sheet sustainable aircraft.

Textron Aviation, parent company of both Cessna and Beechcraft, uses 79% renewable energy at its US-based plants, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The company has signed the NBAA Green Pledge and has been recognised for its efforts by the US Environmental Protection Agency. It has been estimated that Textron alone uses enough energy to power 22,000 US residences.

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