Decarbonization Solutions in Business Aviation
04 December 2023| By Just Aviation Team
Aviation is one of the most dynamic and innovative sectors in the world, but it also faces a major challenge: how to reduce its carbon footprint and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This challenge is especially relevant for business aviation, which offers flexibility, agility, and efficiency for business travelers, but also contributes to the environmental impact of the aviation industry. Explore the current and future solutions for decarbonizing business aviation, and how Just Aviation, a leading business flight support company, can help you fly greener and smarter.
The aviation industry is facing a major challenge: how to reduce its carbon footprint and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), aviation accounts for about 2% of global CO2 emissions, and this share could increase as air travel demand grows faster than fuel efficiency improvements.
Business aviation, which refers to the use of general aviation aircraft for business purposes, is a significant part of the aviation sector. According to the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), business aviation contributes about $150 billion to the U.S. economy and supports more than 1.2 million jobs. However, business aviation also faces the same environmental challenges as commercial aviation, and needs to adopt decarbonization aviation solutions to reduce its impact.
What Are The Decarbonization Solutions For Business Aviation?
There are several ways that business aviation can reduce fuel consumption and emissions, ranging from operational improvements to technological innovations. Some of the most promising solutions are:
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)
SAF is a liquid fuel that reduces CO2 emissions by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel. It can be produced from various feedstocks, such as waste oils, municipal waste, non-food crops, or carbon captured from the air. SAF is compatible with existing aircraft engines and fuel infrastructure, and can be blended with conventional jet fuel. SAF is currently the most viable option for decarbonizing business aviation, as it can be used without major modifications to the fleet. However, SAF faces challenges such as limited availability, high cost, and lack of harmonized standards and policies.
Electric & Hybrid Propulsion
Electric and hybrid propulsion systems use batteries or fuel jet cells to power electric motors that drive propellers or fans. These systems can reduce fuel jet consumption and emissions by improving efficiency, eliminating combustion, and using renewable electricity. Electric and hybrid propulsion is suitable for short-range and low-speed flights, such as urban air mobility or regional transportation. However, electric and hybrid propulsion faces challenges such as limited energy density, high weight, safety, and reliability.
Hydrogen propulsion systems use hydrogen as a fuel to power combustion engines or fuel cells that drive electric motors. Hydrogen can be produced from renewable sources, such as water electrolysis or biomass gasification, and can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 100% compared to conventional jet fuel. Hydrogen propulsion is suitable for medium to long-range and high-speed flights, such as transcontinental or intercontinental transportation. However, hydrogen propulsion faces challenges such as high cost, low availability, storage, distribution, and safety.
How can Business Aviation Adopt Decarbonization Aviation Solutions?
Business aviation, a sector pivotal in global transportation, stands poised to embrace decarbonization strategies by undertaking several crucial steps. These include, but are not limited to:
- Assessing the current and future environmental performance of the fleet, and identify the most suitable decarbonization solutions for different types of flights and missions.
- Investing in research and development, and collaborating with industry partners, academia, and government agencies to accelerate the innovation and deployment of decarbonization solutions.
- Supporting the development and implementation of policies and regulations that enable and incentivize the use of decarbonization solutions, such as carbon pricing, SAF mandates, emissions standards, and infrastructure funding.
- Educating and engaging with customers, employees, and stakeholders on the benefits and challenges of decarbonization solutions, and promoting best practices and sustainability initiatives.
Ground operators play a pivotal role in supporting the adoption of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) within the aviation industry. To facilitate this transition, some best practices for ground operators regarding SAF implementation include:
- Following the IATA Ground Operations Manual (IGOM), which standardizes ground handling processes and procedures to reduce the complexity between working with multiple airlines, airports and ground service providers. The IGOM also provides guidance on the handling of SAF, such as storage, blending, quality control, and documentation.
- Using the ICAO Guidance Material on SAF, which summarizes potential policies and coordinated approaches for the deployment of SAF, and provides order of magnitude estimations related to SAF costs, investment needs and production potential. The guidance also includes a list of existing and planned SAF projects around the world.
- Complying with the ReFuelEU Aviation proposal, which is a draft regulation by the European Commission that aims to promote the uptake of SAF by imposing obligations on fuel jet suppliers to provide a minimum share of SAF that increases over time. The proposal also sets out sustainability criteria and life cycle methodologies for SAF, and requires the reporting and verification of SAF use by aircraft operators and fuel suppliers.
- Supporting the development and implementation of policies and incentives that enable and encourage the production and use of SAF, such as carbon pricing, SAF mandates, emissions standards, infrastructure funding, tax relief, capital support, and feedstock subsidies.
- Educating and engaging with customers, employees, and stakeholders on the benefits and challenges of SAF, and promoting best practices and sustainability initiatives.
Business aviation has a unique opportunity to lead the way in aviation decarbonization, as it can leverage its flexibility, agility, and innovation to adopt and scale up decarbonization solutions. By doing so, business aviation can not only reduce its environmental impact, but also enhance its competitiveness, reputation, and value proposition.
Decarbonizing business aviation is not only a necessity, but also an opportunity. By adopting and scaling up the solutions we discussed, such as sustainable aviation fuel, electric and hybrid propulsion, and hydrogen propulsion, business aviation can reduce its environmental impact, enhance its competitiveness, reputation, and value proposition, and lead the way in aviation innovation. At Just Aviation, we are committed to supporting our customers in their decarbonization journey, by providing them with the best flight planning, fueling, handling, and consulting services. We believe that business aviation can be a force for good, and we invite you to join us in making it happen.