Greening air travel


Amid steady growth in air traffic and related polluting emissions, the aerospace industry is rolling up its sleeves to ensure that the sector grows in a carbon-neutral manner as of 2020.

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Greening air transport means developing cleaner technologies and new flight management systems to reduce the environmental impact of aviation. The EU objective is to halve, by 2020, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and perceived noise pollution, and reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 80% from 2000 levels.

The EU targets stem from the work of the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACAREexternal), a European technology platform established in 2001. ACARE brings together key industrial, research and policy stakeholders to define Strategic Research Agendas (SRAs) identifying the challenges, concepts and technologies that the sector has to work on to become more sustainable.

The European Clean Skyexternal Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) was launched in February 2008 to develop the technologies needed to meet the objectives set by ACARE. 

The €1.6bn 'Clean Sky' programme will be financed equally with EU and industry money. It will focus on six specific projects, including designing greener engines, adapting wing technologies to make new aircraft more energy efficient and developing lighter materials. 

In parallel, SESAR, another large Joint Undertaking, aims to modernise the European air traffic management (ATM) infrastructure to allow airlines to fly more direct routes and reduce fuel consumption and related emissions by over 10% by improving flight efficiency (see EurActiv LinksDossier on the 'Single European Sky').