Blue sky thinking

The Society of British Aerospace Companies has published the ninth briefing paper examining aviation’s impact on the environment and how the industry is working to reduce that impact.


The Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) has published the ninth briefing paper examining aviation’s impact on the environment and how the industry is working to reduce that impact. The paper examines air traffic management and how it can contribute to cutting aircraft emissions.



SBAC claims that aircraft fly on average 50km more per flight than necessary in European airspace. This is due to factors that include divisions of airspace, congestion around airports and aircraft operators not selecting the most efficient routes. The intention now is to reduce the total distance flown over the European route network by 220 million kilometres by 2013. This would result in a reduction in CO2 emissions of 570,000 tonnes annually.



Dr Mark Watson, SBAC’s senior adviser for corporate environmental affairs, said: ‘Air Traffic Management is a key part of air travel and it will also play a major role in cutting aviation’s carbon dioxide emissions. Aviation currently contributes around two per cent of global man-made carbon dioxide emissions but the industry is determined to achieve further reductions in our environmental impact.



‘Better air traffic management could deliver a short-term cut of more than half a million tons of CO2 per year – through shorter routes taken by aircraft across Europe. The industry has also set itself a target of a further 10 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2020.’



Watson added: ‘Aircraft manufacturers are developing exciting new technologies to reduce aviation’s impact on the environment. However, to make full use of these advances we need rationalisation of airspace and air traffic management. The industry cannot achieve this alone. The Single European Sky is an essential part of the efforts being made to further reduce aviation’s impact on the environment. To achieve such efficiency gains requires political will and urgent action from governments across Europe.’