With sustainability becoming more and more a crucial goal for aviation’s growth, much of the early focus has been on the development of sustainable fuels. But a new report released today by Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) in conjunction with consultancy firm Accenture highlights the advances in aircraft design, technology, and construction that also must be accomplished for the industry to meet decarbonization goals.
As the number of air passengers worldwide is expected to double over the next two decades, without action aviation-related emissions are likely to increase by 40 percent in that span. Horizon 2050: A Flight Plan for the Future of Sustainable Aviation provides an in-depth analysis of the technologies under development, their emission-reduction potential, and estimated entry into service (through a near-, mid-, and long-term lens).
By 2030, improvements in traditionally-fueled propulsion such as geared turbofans and high-pressure ratio core engines are expected to take hold, along with design advances in wingtip devices and riblets. Over the next decade, the report predicts hybrid-electric propulsion will become more common, with advanced composites increasing in usage. Beyond 2040, hydrogen propulsion and fuel cells are anticipated to provide savings in greenhouse gas emissions, along with structural innovations such as blended-wing bodies and transonic trust-braced wings entering service.
The report concludes that government support will be vital to foster the development of those technologies and includes a roadmap to help shape industry standards to ensure their safe and swift incorporation.
“There is no silver bullet when it comes to achieving the industry’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” said AIA v-p for civil aviation and report co-author David Silver. “Dramatic changes to airport operations and infrastructure, offsets and sustainable aviation fuels, and, crucially, cutting-edge aerospace technologies all have a role to play in making this goal a reality.”