The DfT’s proposed approach is this:
3.1 The three Jet Zero principles are the foundations of the strategy to decarbonise aviation
3.2 Consultation sets out planned action across the 5 measures including pricing emissions and encouraging consumers to choose most sustainable routes and travel providers
3.3 Chapter 3 sets out approach and proposed policies and asks for feedback
3.4 These can reduce CO2 by increasing efficiency of aircraft, changing how airports operate, optimising use of airspace
3.5 Since 1990 there’s been an average 0.8%/year (2.1% 2010-19) efficiency improvement
3.6 Improving efficiency has lower lead time and offers best opportunities for short-medium term plus improve noise and air quality
3.7 The scenarios to 2050 include efficiency improvements of 25-36% of CO2 savings, with fuel efficiency of 1.5-2%/year: best-in-class aircraft, operations and airspace modernisation, with the benefits of R&D jobs, further £29bn to economy and 116,000 more jobs by 2035, perceived noise reduced by 65% by 2050
3.8 Huge potential to increase efficiency of conventional aircraft (jets, wings, structures, systems) eg A320neo 20% gain on A320ceo, so replacing older aircraft could save 20Mt by 2050
3.9 Single engine taxi / electric motor could cut taxi emissions 60%, airside vehicles could be improved, Bristol aims to be first net zero airport by 2030
3.10 Match fuel and water to passenger loads, improve engine performance, optimise speed, route and altitude
3.11 Improve airspace by eliminating stacks, reduce “tankering” (carrying more fuel than needed to cut costs and save topping up en route) saving 0.9Mt/year
3.12 The pandemic has led to faster retirement of older aircraft, plus allowed testing of new procedures such as dynamic route optimisation
3.13 Ensure aviation has the right policy framework to encourage efficiency, and learn from the past 16 months
Existing policy commitments:
- continue to support airspace modernisation
- work with CAA to support ACOG in ensuring carbon savings are realised
- continue to work with ICAO to ensure global baseline for fuel efficiency
New policy proposals:
- all airport operations in England to be zero emission for operations (not flights) by 2040
- secure voluntary agreement from airlines to avoid “tankering” (carrying more fuel than needed to save filling up later) where practical
- seek other environmental and efficiency incentives via airport charges / slot allocation
- enable Air Navigation Service Providers to levy differential charges based
- on environmental performance
- assess regulation changes which could lead to CO2-saving operations
- look at whether there are other operational efficiencies across the system
The admission above that efficiency improvements from 2010-19 were only 2.1%, yet the DfT’s net zero pathway scenarios rely on achieving 25-36% carbon reduction, suggests the pathways must be rigorously validated.
For a typical airport, like Luton, operational carbon emissions (scope 1 and 2) account for only 1% of the total, with aircraft flights accounting for 99%. It must follow that a focus on reducing aircraft emissions is essential.
Decades after it was promised, airspace modernisation has not occurred, and so the provable emissions savings are not known. What we do know is that in around 2012-13, aircraft Flight Management Systems were tuned to minimise fuel costs, and that the new-generation engines which have taken many years to produce can deliver around 15% fuel efficiency. Whether there are comparable short and medium term gains left is not known.
5. Do you agree or disagree with the overall approach to improve the efficiency of our existing aviation system?
6. What more or differently could be done to ensure we maximise efficiency within the current aviation system?
Next page: “Sustainable Aviation Fuels”