ALTA: air transport in Latin America and the Caribbean aims for the environment
On World Environment Day, ALTA reaffirms the commitment of the aviation industry to the planet
Panama, June 5, 2019 – The Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association (ALTA) joins the celebration of the World Environment Day that is commemorated every June 5th, since 1974, with the aim of raising awareness about the importance of reducing pollution and encouraging more environmentally responsible practices to protect the planet and it natural resources.
Air transport is one of the most efficient and environmentally responsible means of transport, thanks to joint efforts of the industry players, who have been taking significant measures to reduce the environmental impact of their operations.
In 2010, the aviation industry set out three goals to mitigate the environmental impact of its operations: increase 1.5% per year the efficiency in fuel consumption between 2010 and 2020; stop CO2 emissions net growth as of 2020; reduce by 50% net CO2 emissions by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.
These ambitious goals will be achieved through four pillars: technological innovation; operational improvements; infrastructure improvements and economic and market measures.
The ALTA member airlines are a global example, since they have achieved an annual fuel efficiency of 3.5% -higher than the goal of 1.5% set in 2010- and have avoided the emission of one million tons of CO2 in the last 7 years, thanks to the fact that they have renewed more than 50% of their fleet over the last decade, thereby reducing 35% the average age of the fleet which is estimated today is 8.5 years on average.
Juan Sarmiento, ALTA’s Economics & Environment Manager, comments: “ALTA member airlines are constantly making important operational improvements to reduce their emissions, such as taxiing with a single engine (which allows to save fuel while in ground, mostly in congested airports); landings without thrust reverser (which save fuel and reduce engine demand during landing); APU/GRU optimization (which reduce the time the energy unit is on); takeoff and landing with reduced flaps (which allows to achieve less resistance to air and, therefore, consuming less fuel) and reduction of takeoff power under than 1,500 feet (which allows around 3% savings in fuel consumption).
“Together with the civil aviation authorities and industry organizations, air transport companies have developed PBN (Performance Based Navigation) procedures in several countries in the region, allowing to fly more direct trajectories, to optimize the arrival, approach and departure, and to reduce fuel consumption and emissions”, he added.
PNB also allows to reduce aircraft noise, congestion at airports and airspace, and to increase operational safety. Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ALTA’s Executive Director and CEO, comments: “At ALTA, we are focused on supporting all industry players to reduce their environmental impact. Both our member airlines and industry suppliers with the development and adoption of new technologies, and the civil aviation authorities and States to implement measures such as the redesign of airspace and PBN procedures at airports in the region to increase operations efficiency. Currently, more than 10 countries in the region have a PBN implementation plan in place, which is very positive.”
Four pillars to achieve the objectives set in 2010:
Continuing to invest in technological innovation, operational improvements and infrastructure improvements will achieve the greatest long-term environmental benefits.
CORSIA is one of the economic and market measures that will help in the short-term. In 2019 began the Monitoring, Reporting and Verification phase and, in March, ICAO approved the Eligibility Criteria for Carbon Credits, according to which the compensation credits programs must comply with 11 design elements and 8 basic criteria to be eligible for CORSIA.
The future lies in supporting the deployment of sustainable fuels for aviation and the use of “evolutionary” and even revolutionary aircraft technologies and engines, such as the use of electric aircraft.
“In terms of fuel, there is an important potential to reduce emissions up to 80% for the aircraft of the current generation. In 2010, one of our members made a commercial flight using sustainable fuel, a mixture of 50% Jatropha oil and 50% traditional fuel. We hope that soon this type of fuels gets more affordable and accessible,” de Oliveira added.
Currently, some concepts of hybrid aircraft and electric battery are being studied. Different companies have announced plans to manufacture electric aircraft. The development of electric aircraft is expected to begin in the mid-2020s with prototypes with a capacity of 15 to 20 passengers and with the aim of climbing to larger capacity aircraft (regional or single-aisle) in 2035.
With prospects of doubling air traffic in the region within the next 10 years, we need to continue adopting new technologies, expand capacity and define more efficient operating mechanisms that allow us to serve increasingly people who make use of air transport as a means of transport.
ALTA is a private non-profit association serving the airline industry whose objective is to develop a safer, more efficient, and sustainable aviation in Latin America and the Caribbean. ALTA coordinates collaborative efforts throughout the entire value chain maximizing the impact that aviation has on the economic and social growth of the region for the benefit of industry, nations, and populations served by air transport.
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