This month there are various articles about the future of flying. Generally aeroplanes are responsible for emissions higher in the atmosphere. The total climate impact of aircraft emissions has been estimated, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to be 2-4 times that of its direct CO2 emissions alone. There are a number of innovations that are starting to emerge that offer hope of a lower emission future within the aviation sector.
Chip Yates wants to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in an electric plane and has decided to build and design an electric plane to do it in. Read more about this pioneering adventure in this article. Mr Yates doesn’t want to fly at a slow pace and he is looking to propel himself and the plane at a speed that is in-keeping with the pioneers of cross-Atlantic flight.
At a slower pace, the Solar Impulse tour of the USA has concluded with the solar power plane crossing the USA, coast to coast. This is a pioneering idea that has proved that it is possible to fly the solar powered plane at night and by day. It is truly pioneering and also presents a clear message about clean technologies of the future. The plane has travelled from San Francisco to New York in various stages. Some of the technology developed here will be used in the future no doubt. Whilst the plane has achieved much it flies along at 27kph on average (certainly the stage from Washington to New York was at this speed. Not the fastest object in the air but without any pollution at all. Full details can be found on the solar impulse web site.
For more conventional aircraft there are options to have electrically installed taxiing equipment to reduce emission levels when on the ground. The Honeywell and Safran EGTS green taxi system can significantly improve an airline’s operational efficiency when it is taxiing. The plane currently uses a disproportionate amount of fuel when in transit on the tarmac: when on the ground aircraft engine is idle and is not as efficient as it could be. See this BBC News article and green taxiing website.
In other developments there have been concepts for hybrid electric planes displayed at the Paris air show this year. The developments are several years away but offer a long-term vision for sustainable flight.