EUROCONTROL Think Paper #10 – Flying the ‘perfect green flight’

How can we make every journey as environmentally friendly as possible?
Green airplane flying over a biofuel tank

European aviation has embarked on its most important trajectory for decades: the challenge of achieving the ambitious target of carbon neutrality by 2050. The political will is there, with the European ‘Green Deal’ showing the way forward: the challenge is to make every journey as environmentally friendly as possible and aim, as much as possible, to fly the ‘perfect green flight’.

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.

Download the full paper to learn more.

Think Papers are produced to stimulate debate and look at alternatives. They do not represent the official view of the Agency or its Member States.

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EUROCONTROL Think Paper #10 – Flying the ‘perfect green flight’