Inspiring the Industry
Boeing is bringing together customers, suppliers, academic institutions and government organizations around the globe to work at the leading edge of today’s most promising technologies for continued environmental efficiencies.
Our commercial and military customers are looking for innovative ways to improve the environmental performance of aerospace, reduce the dependence on petroleum and secure a clean-energy future. That is why Boeing is taking a leading role in accelerating the development of sustainable biofuels that can be used as a “drop-in” replacement for jet fuel while not competing with food, water or land-use resources.
With a number of initiatives around the world, from Brazil, to the U.S., Australia, the UAE and China, Boeing is working to enable the development and commercialization of sustainable aviation biofuels.
Major milestones were achieved last year as Boeing-led industry efforts won approval from ASTM International for aviation biofuels. This organization, which establishes fuel standards for commercial and military aviation around the globe, approved use of these innovative fuels without requiring modifications to aircraft or engines.
Since these fuels were approved, more than 1,500 commercial airline flights have successfully flown using biofuels. The U.S. Navy has certified all their aircraft for biofuels flight, and most of the U.S. Air Force aircraft have received similar approvals.
In addition to the regularly scheduled commercial flights in 2011, Boeing took a leading role in two pioneering biofuels flights.
In June 2011, a 747-8 Freighter made its international air show debut flying across the Atlantic Ocean to the Paris Air Show using renewable aviation jet fuel — the world’s first transatlantic crossing of a commercial jetliner using biofuels.
And, in April 2012, Boeing delivered a 787 Dreamliner to Japan’s ANA powered in part by sustainable biofuels. The delivery flight between Boeing’s Delivery Center in Everett, Wash., and Tokyo was the first transpacific biofuels flight.
Improving the efficiency of the global transportation system, which is based on 1950s-era technology, will provide significant environmental benefits. The Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO), of which Boeing is a member, estimates that the current worldwide air traffic management system fuel efficiency is between 92 and 94 percent and is working toward a goal of 95 to 98 percent by 2050. At the same time, Boeing is collaborating globally to research and develop longer-term systems and solutions to modernize and transform air travel.
In October 2011, Boeing received a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration contract — called Greener Skies Initiative 2 — to evaluate current navigation procedures and analyze new ones with the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of air travel. This initiative will expand and build on the success of the Greener Skies Over Seattle project, which demonstrated Alaska Airlines’ ability to cut fuel consumption and reduce emissions by 35 percent using new techniques Boeing developed for the descent and landing phases of flight.
In August 2011, Boeing and Indonesia’s Lion Air completed validation flights to test precision navigation technology in South Asia. Using GPS-based technology to fly precisely defined flight paths will reduce flight miles and improve descents, saving fuel, reducing emissions and noise, and enhancing safety.
Boeing is offering services to help airlines save fuel and increase environmental performance. The use of old, inaccurate and limited weather data can prevent airplanes from operating at peak efficiency. A new service, called “Wind Updates,” provides flight crews with real-time wind, temperature and weather information that can save hundreds of gallons of fuel on a typical flight.
In 2011, Boeing took a leadership role in an effort to bring together the aerospace industry and address the need for common environmental standards in the global supply chain. The International Aerospace Environmental Group (IAEG) is working to develop a standardized approach for a wide range of environmental issues including identifying the chemical components in aerospace parts produced around the world and greenhouse gas data collection and reporting.
Founding members include Airbus and EADS, Boeing, Bombardier Aerospace, Dassault Aviation, Embraer, GE Aviation, Northrop Grumman, Rolls-Royce, SAFRAN, United Technologies Corporation and Zodiac Aerospace. Since then, membership has nearly doubled.
Our hope is that these efforts will lead to increased efficiency in aerospace operations and enable reductions in environmental pollution.
Global Approach to Aviation Emissions
Since aviation is a global industry, with airplanes crossing international borders every day, Boeing believes that a global system is needed to address aviation emissions. We advocate that a global emissions framework for aviation can best be achieved under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations organization.
Working through ICAO, aviation was the first industry to present a clear plan to the United Nations’ ongoing climate change negotiations. ICAO calls for global guidelines including the development of a CO2 standard for aircraft, improvements in air traffic control systems to cut air travel–related emissions by up to 12 percent and continued efforts to promote the commercialization of sustainable alternative fuels — all with the aim of achieving carbon-neutral growth across commercial aviation by 2020 and reducing the footprint after that.
The aviation industry promoted this approach at the UN climate change conferences over the last three years. Boeing fully supports the ICAO position on controlling aviation emissions and, along with the rest of the aviation industry, we are working toward meeting these commitments.
Boeing does not believe that isolated regional or national programs to regulate aviation emissions will achieve the desired environmental, economic and social results. Localized approaches could result in competitive distortions and delay of investments in aviation emissions reductions through technology.
Biofuels: Renewable jet fuel
Using wind to save fuel
Related Links: Algal Biomass Organization, ATM, Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest