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Promises of Greener Flying

By Emily, 01/28/2010 - 17:34

The expansive growth of air travel lays high pressures on the aviation industry to continue the trend towards lower carbon emissions. Lately different airline companies - 'the bad guys' of the global warming story- are coming up with more ecological solutions in order to respond to the growing critique of green campaigners and alert consumers. At the same time the urge for more efficient aircraft is driven by the desire to control fluctuating high fuel costs.hat level of unsustainability do we think is reasonable and for whom, where and when? Can we have a better conscious if we fly "green"?

For instance, the new Boeing Dreamliner 787, is expected to introduce many innovative solutions and to lead the needed change in the conventional air travel. While the Dreamliner is expected to offer its passengers greater comfort, it will be among the least polluting aircraft ever to enter commercial operation. This new plane use 20 percent less fuel than a normal aircraft of equivalent size, because of greater engine efficiency, and the use of lighter composite materials and improved aerodynamics. It also produces 75 per cent less noise than its current Boeing rivals.

Another example of movement towards more environmental concious air travel comes from Scandinavian Airlines Systems (SAS). Company's 'Green Landings' programme is using a number of measures to reach 17.5 percent savings in fuel consumption, compared to a conventional flight. Even though the concept of aircraft routinely flying on non-fossil fuels is still far in the future, SAS and its co-operation partners are working out ways to improve fuel efficiency dramatically.

While the wide global concerns of climate change have occured only in recent years, the development of these kinds of 'greener' solutions is not a new trend. International Air Transport Association (IATA), states that today's aircrafts are about 65 per cent more fuel-efficient than they were in 1970. The clean technology of modern engines has almost eliminated emissions of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons and by 2050 IATA is expecting to see a carbon-free aircraft flying commercially.

However, today's solutions and promises of more ecological flying are controversial as the reduction of carbon emissions does not yet make air travel sustainable and not harmful. One of the dilemmas is the gradual progress towards usage of biofuels as the production of gas and diesel from plants in the tropical countries has turned out to cause serious environmental and social problems. There exists a high risk of diverting farmland or crops for biofuels production which contributes to the global food insecurity.

What level of unsustainability do we think is reasonable and for whom, where and when? Can we have a better conscious if we fly "green"?

Text: Emily H?ckert

Image: a.abcnew.com

Source: Telegraph.co.uk / Mark Rowe