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Industry chiefs issue joint call to action over aviation sustainability
Aviation CTOs say flying now uses 80 per cent less fuel per revenue passenger km than it did 50 years ago, but more must be done. They have released their companies' plans on future sustainability efforts.

The chief technology officers of seven aerospace manufacturers have reaffirmed their commitment to achieving more sustainable aviation and to reaching industry-wide Air Transport Action Group targets at a pre-COP26 event in London. This statement updates a commitment made in June 2019 as part of a shared position to support the aviation sector's ambition to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The CTOs of Airbus, Boeing, Dassault Aviation, GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce and Safran will also issue a call to action to policymakers, research institutions, suppliers, fuel producers and airport operators to build on the progress made in recent years and deliver on the aviation sector's sustainability agenda.

They will work together on three core areas of aviation technology: advancing aircraft and engine design and technology; supporting increased availability and adoption of SAF as well as investigating hydrogen as a fuel of the future; continuing to develop novel technologies that will eventually enable net zero carbon aviation while maintaining the safety and quality standards of the industry.

The seven CTOs, whose firms have spent over $75 billion in R&D combined over the past five years, are calling for a sustained and planned approach from policymakers to support the development of novel technologies and stimulate the ramp-up of SAF and green hydrogen production capacity. They want a globally consistent approach to regulation and certification standards; collaboration between research institutions and aerospace suppliers in the development of the new technologies; investment in SAF production capacity by fuel producers; and investment by airport operators in the infrastructure required to support novel aviation technologies.

Some steps have already been taken by the seven companies since the 2019 joint commitment. Airbus aims to deliver zero-emission aircraft by 2035, unveiling three hydrogen-powered concept aircraft. The company is also engaged in 100 per cent SAF climate-impact projects that are a part of its overall roadmap towards certification for the entry into service of 100 per cent SAF on its fleet by 2030.

Boeing committed its commercial aircraft to be capable of flying on 100 per cent SAF by 2030. It continues to test new technologies on its ecoDemonstrator programme and partnered with SkyNRG and SkyNRG Americas to scale up SAF. With Kitty Hawk it formed Wisk, a joint venture to advance the future of urban air mobility with more than 1,500 test flights of its self-flying, all-electric air taxi. And it completed a fifth hydrogen flight test programme, this time with subsidiary Insitu on their ScanEagle3 unmanned aerial vehicle, that was powered by a proton exchange membrane (PEM) hydrogen fuel cell.

Dassault Aviation actively promotes the use of SAF and its Falcon range is already SAF-compatible. Within Clean Sky 2 at the European level and France's civil aviation research council (Corac), its work focuses on lowering fuel consumption by reducing aircraft drag and weight. With the European Sesar programme, the company is working to improve flight efficiency and fuel consumption through the use of specially-tailored flight paths. Dassault is also involved in Corac projects related to the use of hydrogen in future aircraft.

GE Aviation is maturing a megawatt-class integrated hybrid electric powertrain to demonstrate flight readiness for single aisle aircraft with NASA, and is leading industry efforts to define standards for 100 per cent SAF.

GE and Safran jointly launched the CFM RISE (Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines) programme in June 2021 to demonstrate and mature disruptive technologies including open fan and hybrid electric, targeting more than 20 per cent lower fuel consumption and CO2 emissions compared to today's most efficient engines.

Pratt & Whitney is developing a hybrid-electric flight demonstrator in partnership with De Havilland Canada, Collins Aerospace and the Canadian government, targeting a 30 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions compared to current regional turboprop aircraft. It is also developing technologies for a more efficient engine core and recently opened an engineering and development facility in Carlsbad, California, dedicated to ceramic matrix composites to support this effort. It is continuing to validate engines operating with up to 100 per cent SAF.

Rolls-Royce has joined the UN Race to Zero and has pledged to prove all its Trent engines, accounting for 40 per cent of the world's long-haul fleet, are compatible with 100 per cent SAF by 2023, aligned with the UN Race to Zero breakthrough on SAF take up by 2030. It has tied its SAF compatibility goals to executive remuneration, has tested two widebody and one business jet engine types on 100 per cent SAF, and signed an MoU with Shell agreeing to develop and accelerate SAF use. It has developed and flown what it expects to be the fastest all-electric aircraft and signed agreements in the all-electric and UAM markets with customers to power products due to fly by the middle of this decade.

Safran has created a strategic partnership with TotalEnergies to accelerate the reduction of CO2 emissions by jointly working for the development and deployment of SAF that could completely replace fossil kerosene in current and future engines. Safran and Airbus will leverage the skills and test facilities of their JV ArianeGroup to prepare hydrogen technologies for aviation.

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