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Green technology takes on many forms as people work together to improve the environment for future generations. A big part of that process happens in the world of aviation technology. Air travel, whether for pleasure, business or military purposes, is at an all-time high, so the aeronautics industry is hard at work finding ways to decrease its impact on the environment. Through better fuel efficiency, modern aircraft designs and increased air traffic management technology, travelers will find more reasons than ever to take to the skies.
Green Fuels for Flight
Aviation is leading the way in the research and development of biofuels for aircraft. British Airways and Solena are working together to produce aplant in the East London area. Together the companies will invest $350 million to construct facilities that will produce enough aviation fuel from waste products to fill 80 tanker trucks each day, a total of two percent of the airline’s fuel needs. Using existing waste benefits the environment by keeping it out of landfills and also saves each airline $100 per ton in landfill taxes. Other companies are following suit by supplying trials of various biofuel products. One such product, supplied by SkyNRG, is waste oil from catering companies that is converted into biofuel. Other companies are combining biofuels at a rate of 50 percent biofuel and 50 percent kerosene to test on dedicated flights. The use of biofuels in aeronautics could potentially lead the way for further testing of these fuels in other areas, potentially reducing overall dependence on fossil fuels.
The New Look of Green Flight
When it comes to the greening of the aviation industry, new airplane designs are crucial. NASA recently challenged the aviation industry to come up with an advanced generation of aircrafts. Looking at the areas of fuel consumption, air pollution and noise, NASA hopes to discover the best in green flight technology for tomorrow’s air travel. Designs were submitted by Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, with each company having to reduce current fuel consumption by 50 percent. The common factor in all the designs was the use of new, lightweight composite materials in the construction of the airplane. The designs were also more streamlined than the typical jet. With lighter construction materials and sleek lines, the companies met NASA’s challenge and reduced pollution from these planes by 50 percent, meeting and exceeding two of the criteria. Noise reduction continues to be an area of concern, as each company continues to work towards a design that will meet NASA’s goal of an 83 percent reduction in noise for people living near airports. This goal could potentially be reached within the next five years. NASA expects to have these advanced airplanes in service by 2025.
Greening Our World through Aviation
One of the biggest challenges to greening the world through aviation technology is the efficiency of air traffic flow. Although air travel is not the biggest contributor to climate change in the world, without sufficient advances in the amount of air traffic and the way it’s managed, efforts in other areas won’t make as big of an impact. A part of this process involves improving flight times in all types of weather, which involves the development of air traffic efficiency technology. This technology will integrate air, ground and other elements of management to streamline the process of air travel. These advances will result in less time spent on runways or in the air waiting for clearance to land. In Europe, the Single European Sky Air Traffic Research System initiative is working to integrate multiple areas of air travel to provide a more automated system. Aeronautical technology advances in the areas of air traffic control and management will help to produce flight experiences that are better for travelers and safer for the environment.
Air travel continues to be the most efficient way to get around in our increasingly global society; efficient travel means a greener environment. The aviation industry is making big advances in the most crucial areas to have as little impact on the environment as possible while still providing the best in air travel for its customers. With the right balance of fuel efficiency, pollution reduction and noise control, flying is becoming an ever more environmentally friendly choice for today’s traveler.
About the Author: Joseph Parker has worked in the business world for over 15 years, specifically in management. He has led development and management teams, and implemented budget reductions both professionally and as an independent contractor. He enjoys finding renewable solutions to the resource problem, promoting green technologies, and furthering green research.
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