Using exclusive EUROCONTROL aviation data and analysis, our tenth in a series of thought-provoking Think Papers takes the reader on a journey, looking at every aspect of a flight before, during and immediately after to identify the main opportunities to improve aviation sustainability at each stage, the challenges that need to be tackled to get closer to that ‘perfect green flight’, and what we can do – now and in the medium term – to make that happen.
We find that purely using existing technology, every flight operating in Europe could become on average over 25% greener by 2030, with CO2 emissions reduced by up to 25.8% through a combination of measures including increased use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, better use of fuel-efficient airspace and technological solutions by all European ATM network stakeholders, and fleet modernisation by airlines.
This is strong progress towards Net Zero by 2050. We predict that emerging aircraft technologies in the form of hybrid, electric and hydrogen airplanes will transform aviation over the period 2030-2050, enabling aviation to meet its climate-neutrality goal by 2050. By 2050, these new airplanes will be increasingly prevalent on short to medium haul sectors. In parallel, 83% of fuel used will be SAF, with SAF use predominating in the long-haul sector irrespective of further technological developments.