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Summarizing the outcomes of an ICAO sustainability event recently, ICAO Council president Salvatore Sciacchitano stressed the need to seize the post-COVID recovery as a vital opportunity for aviation to build back better through decarbonization.
“Aviation has always promoted and benefitted from innovation, but it will be up to us to help energize this momentum further and motivate partners, both private and public, to foster the required investment and incentive frameworks,” remarked Sciacchitano during his closing remarks to the ICAO Stocktaking Seminar on aviation in-sector CO2 emissions reductions. “With public subsidies and bailouts playing a critical role in sustaining many airports and airline operators through this period, states could likely have a greater say over how the industry evolves post-pandemic. This represents an opportunity to motivate and drive a greener recovery for the aviation sector, and ICAO is committed to support and assist states and stakeholders in all related initiatives.”
During the four-day ICAO Stocktaking Seminar, nearly 100 stakeholders, including aeronautical pioneers, industry leaders, technical experts, researchers, innovators, civil society advocates, and states, shared their ambitious plans for decarbonizing international aviation, some of which were committing and presenting concrete roadmaps to zero emissions.
Dozens of solutions were discussed, including advanced and novel aircraft technologies, operational improvements both in the air and on the ground, and opportunities for scaling up sustainable aviation fuels.
More than 1,000 registered participants and an overflow of more than 200 people in the ICAO TV live were able to learn and become inspired by those solutions throughout the event.
The seminar’s high-level roundtables featured the perspectives of numerous aviation leaders including the director general of CAA Norway Lars Kobberstad, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury, Boeing vice-president, Strategy for Commercial Airplanes, Sheila Remes, Rolls Royce CTO Paul Stein, executive director of the International Council on Clean Transportation and Civil Society Drew Kodjak, and Heathrow Airport CEO John Holland Kaye.
Participants recognized that while hybrid and electric aircraft will first enter into service on shorter routes, they could also be providing longer range commercial and zero-emission services as early as the 2030s in light of recent and major commitments. Discussions also focused on the potential for clean energy and hydrogen to fuel a new generation of aircraft leading up to 2050.
In the operational area, the importance of solar solutions to emissions and cost savings at airports was acknowledged, as was the possibility of new types of formation flight that could realize a further 10 per cent fuel saving in commercial operations.
The fact that sustainable aviation fuels have already been used on over 250,000 commercial flights, flying out of nine airports globally, and eight aviation fuel conversion processes have now been certified, was also highlighted as a success requiring further capitalization.
Stakeholders also highlighted the significance of airlines’ announcements on latest fleet renewals which could result in up to 25 per cent greater fuel efficiency.
A high level panel including France’s director general of civil aviation, Patrick Gandil, oneworld airline alliance CEO Rob Gurney, the chair of the International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA), Eric Fanning, and U.K. climate action champion Nigel Topping, concluded the event, with the oneworld CEO taking advantage of the opportunity to announce the new and combined commitment of its 13 airlines to achieve net-zero operations by 2050.
Sciacchitano welcomed the commitment and ambition of oneworld, adding that, “We must accelerate the pace to scale-up these good practices, and boost the innovation and implementation of greener solutions. Together you represent a strong and effective environmental coalition, and working through ICAO provides you with a unique opportunity to influence key public and private decision makers and to strengthen the partnerships and results which will be so important to future generations.”
The outcomes of the ICAO Stocktaking event will directly inform a number of current initiatives which states have tasked ICAO within the area of emissions mitigation, and will be augmented by the next ICAO virtual Seminar on Aviation’s Green Recovery (Nov. 23-25, 2020).