Inspiring Global Collaboration

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As the world's leading aerospace company, Boeing plays a major role in helping the commercial aviation industry achieve its goals of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and a 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050.

Effective strategies for maintaining and reducing current levels of greenhouse gas emissions will be critical as demand for worldwide travel continues to increase. By some estimates, the current worldwide fleet of 20,000 in-service aircraft will double by 2030. It’s estimated that aviation accounts for between 2 and 3 percent of total global carbon dioxide emissions, and Boeing is committed to making sure that doesn’t grow as air travel continues to expand.

To achieve this, Boeing is focusing on building more fuel-efficient airplanes, promoting the development of sustainable aviation biofuels, and improving the efficiency of the global air traffic system.

Sustainable Aviation Biofuels

More than 1,500 commercial and military flights have been powered by sustainable biofuels, successfully demonstrating the alternative fuels’ performance on a variety of aircraft without requiring any modifications to the airplanes or engines. A Boeing 747-8 Freighter and 787 Dreamliner were involved in the first transatlantic and transpacific biofuels flights in 2011 and 2012.

Boeing is working with international partners to help biofuels development move from “proof” to production -- accelerating the scale-up and commercialization of a sustainable biofuels industry.

Examples of Boeing’s biofuels partnerships include:

  • Collaboration with the Sao Paulo Research Foundation and other stakeholders on defining a pathway to a viable aviation biofuels industry in Brazil.
  • In the U.S., collaboration with United Airlines and other stakeholders on the Midwest Aviation Sustainable Biofuels Initiative (MASBI).

The projects’ final reports, expected in 2013, will offer recommendations that can guide research, business and policy decisions on developing the aviation biofuels industry in each regions.

Boeing also is an active partner in ongoing biofuels research initiatives in China and the UAE.

In a boost to biofuels growth, in April 2013 the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a five-year extension of its biofuels research program with Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration and other industry groups. The program’s goal is to support the annual production of 1 billion gallons of drop-in aviation biofuel by 2018.

A sustainable aviation biofuel meets or exceeds jet fuel standards, produces lower carbon emissions over its life cycle, and does not displace food crops or compete with water or other land-use resources. A viable aviation biofuels industry offers an alternative to petroleum-based jet fuel.

Operational Efficiency -- Air Traffic Management

The 100,000 daily commercial flights at airports around the world are wasting an estimated 8 percent of their fuel -- and generating unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions -- because of outdated and inefficient air traffic operations and technology.

The environmental benefits from improving air traffic management and onboard flight technology are substantial: Boeing and the Air Transport Action Group estimate that updating ATM and onboard technology could reduce annual fuel consumption by 9 million tons and CO2 emissions by 28 million tons. That’s equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions from 1.44 million average U.S. homes or 5.8 million average vehicles.

Cutting the average flight time by just one minute would save airlines $1.5 billion a year in fuel and operating costs.

Boeing closely collaborates with industry groups and international regulators working to improve global air traffic efficiency. In a major step forward in 2012, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations organization, adopted a new vision and framework that will guide global air traffic improvements.

The framework is based on “block upgrades” -- or standardized enhancements -- that will help ensure that air traffic improvements around the world are coordinated and based on technology and procedures that operate together safely and efficiently.

Boeing is an ICAO advisor and member of the team that developed the upgrades and recommended improvements.

Boeing is working directly with Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) on two joint research projects to improve the long-term efficiency, safety and environmental footprint of China’s commercial aviation system.

In research funded partially by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing has demonstrated onboard technology that cut fuel consumption and reduced carbon emissions by up to 35 percent during the descent and landing phases of a flight. Boeing also has developed GPS-based precision navigation technology that enables aircraft to fly precisely defined routes that reduce flight miles, save fuel and reduce emissions and noise.