Aviation pollution: how are planes becoming greener

Learn how airlines are decreasing their environmental impact through green aviation initiatives to reduce aviation pollution.
aviation pollution

Did you know the aviation industry accounts for around 2.5 percent of the world’s carbon emissions? This is a small percentage in the grand scheme of things.

Still, when you consider the number of people dependent on aviation to the number of people dependent on other major carbon-emitting occupations like agriculture and the energy sector, it is still a huge amount.

So, there is an urgent need for greener planes. Keep reading this article to know how the world is looking to make planes greener. 

What is green aviation, and why is it necessary

Green aviation refers to the undertakings of the aviation industry to make planes more efficient and reduce aviation pollution, especially the emission of greenhouse gases. 

While the 2.5 percent carbon emissions by the aviation industry is still a huge number, what is more shocking is the fact that the percentage grew more than 30 times in half a decade. So, if the present trend continues, the share of carbon emissions by the aviation industry will only grow more.

Planes not only produce carbon dioxide that depletes the ozone layer, but they also produce water vapors, aerosol, and nitrogen oxides. These particles can trap the heat that comes directly from the sun, thus, raising the Earth’s temperature. Thus, green aviation is vital to tackle the issues like global warming and ozone layer depletion, which are major reasons for climate change. 

How are planes becoming greener

There are several ways through which planes can become greener. Currently, the aviation industry is focusing on greener fuel alternatives, strategic planning, and technological innovations to achieve this goal. Here are the details about what the education industry is doing to become greener. 

1. Alternative fuel sources

One of the major reasons why planes produce carbon dioxide is because they use non-renewable jet fuel sources. Therefore, the aviation industry is working to utilize different sustainable fuel sources like plants, wastes, algae, etc.

Sustainable fuel possesses the same qualities and serves the same purpose as non-renewable jet fuels. For example, airplanes like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner have successfully used biofuels as an alternative fuel source

The only difference is that sustainable fuel is much harder to obtain in huge quantities than is needed by planes. But, with the development of new technologies, the possibility of planes running on sustainable fuel sources is increasing. 

2. More efficient planes with better technology

One of the main reasons the aviation industry is becoming greener is because of new technological advancements. Firstly, the fuel consumption of airplanes has drastically reduced. Bigger commercial airplanes like Boeing and Airbus have become more fuel efficient than ever. 

Secondly, the aviation industry also works on airplane engines that run on electricity. The idea is that if cars can efficiently run on electricity, airplanes can too. An estimate is that by 2040, small planes could efficiently fly for a few hundred miles on electricity.

But, the task will be much harder for bigger airplanes, and full-electricity-powered commercial planes don’t seem a possibility in the near future. However, scientists and engineers in the aviation industry are working to develop a hybrid engine that operates on electricity and hydrogen. This step can be a breakthrough for the aviation industry and can significantly reduce carbon emissions.  

3. Proper planning in the aviation industry

The aviation industry has targeted to reduce net carbon emissions by airplanes even if the air traffic doesn’t reduce. This target can be achieved through proper planning and ultimate cooperation between all the departments involved in the aviation industry.

Firstly, the aviation industry, especially the United States and United Kingdom aviation industry, has purchased carbon offsets. To be more specific, purchasing carbon offsets means that the aviation industry buys carbon credits to compensate for the industry’s carbon emissions. 

The money generated from the credits purchased is used to fund activities that decrease carbon emissions, like planting trees, sustainable energy technologies, etc. 

Secondly, the aviation industry is also working on developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to reduce fuel consumption. Airlines, like Air France and Malaysia Airlines, have moved on from primitive navigation technology and are using new technology like Sky Breathe that takes the help of AI to find new routes to save more fuel. And, with time and effort, new routes could be found that could lead to thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions.

Lastly, you must have seen the long line-shaped smoke clouds formed by airplane engines. These clouds are known as condensation trails or contrails. Contrails, however, only form in areas with narrow atmospheric bands with cold and humid weather. 

If planes can avoid these areas while flying, carbon emissions could be significantly reduced. And with the help of proper research and planning, this industry is conducting new contrail avoidance projects to have a greener future. 

The future of the green aviation industry

The aviation industry is one of the world’s most revolutionary and rapidly growing sectors. But, with this rapid growth comes an increase in environmental pollution due to emissions from aircraft. That’s why the future of green aviation is so important. 

Green aviation involves using environmentally friendly technologies and fuels to reduce air pollution and dangerous noise pollution levels. Technological advancements such as electric and hybrid aircraft, renewable fuels, and advanced operational systems can help reduce emissions significantly. 

Additionally, strict regulations by governing bodies are helping airlines to adhere to the standards of green aviation. The green revolution in this industry is expected to bring numerous benefits that include reduced fuel consumption, maintenance costs, and efficiency

Airlines will also be able to reduce their carbon footprint and comply with environmental regulations, which could lead to greater customer loyalty. 

The future of green aviation is bright and full of opportunities. With the rising awareness about environmental issues, governments are actively promoting green initiatives that are helping the industry move in a sustainable direction. 

Read also: More and more people choose not to fly: what is the “flight shaming” movement

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