The aviation industry is working on fuel conservation measures as a key way to reduce carbon emissions and costs.
The biggest improvements are coming from new technologies that change the way planes fly, reports the New York Times. As examples, global positioning information enables airliners to fly shorter, more direct routes to destinations, and special landing procedures called continuous descent approaches reduce fuel to the engines.
A recent test flight by Southwest Airlines, using both technologies, finds that it could reduce fuel consumption by 6 percent, according to New York Times. As a result, the aviation authority is looking at ways to accelerate the use of satellite-guided planes through the system.
Manufacturers are also working on the development of new engines and lighter weight jetliners that will help save fuel. A plane’s design and the weight contribute to fuel consumption, which is why jetliners like the CSeries, Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 are being made from lighter-than-metal composite materials, and planes already in service are being retrofitted with modifications to take advantage of new knowledge about aerodynamic efficiency, according to the New York Times article.
In addition, jetliner manufacturers are also working to become environmentally responsible in their own operations. For example, The Boeing Company was recently recognized by DNV, a global provider of services for managing risk, for certifying all major manufacturing sites to the ISO 14001 environmental standard by the end of 2008. Boeing has focused on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and waste and to increase energy efficiency and recycle rates.
These changes are coming just in time as countries start to set CO2 emission reductions for the aviation industry. Starting in 2012, CO2 emissions from aviation in the European Union will be capped at the average 2004/06 levels. This will be applied to all flights arriving and departing EU airports.