Commercial aviation is one of the industries that are fast-growing, but it is also one of the contributors to air pollution. Environmentalists are advocating green aviation to reduce the carbon footprint released by airplanes. It aims to save energy, reduce emissions, and deals with the effects of aviation to industry.
The green aviation improves their activities, such as aircraft fuel efficiency, air traffic control, and to develop new technologies to neutralize carbon emissions. Civil aerospace participates in sustainability-related research and technology development. In this article, we’ll know more information about how aviation can go green.
Why Flying is bad for the Environment?
Aircraft engines create so much noise that can exceed up to 140 decibels during takeoff. Elevated noise is confronted with health consequences, such as hearing impairment, sleep disturbance, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, annoyance, stress, etc. These negative impacts of aircraft noise most likely to happen if the airport is near the residential houses.
At the moment, some directives aim to control and lessen the aircraft noise.
Airplanes emit sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides like cars. It burns large amounts of fuel during take-off that only take up to 25% of the total amount of the plane’s fuel. With the total amount of harmful gases that are emitted every time a plane travels, no doubt that it leaves so much carbon footprint.
The main activity of airplanes which are taking off, flying in the air and landing is not the only way by which it causes air pollution. Some aviation-related activities, such as plane maintenance (painting, de-icing, metal cleaning, etc.) make use of chemicals that also pollutes the air.
Gallons of glycols are used during aircraft de-icing. Glycols are one of the water pollutants from airports because it may end up in waterways. Due to the extensive use of fuel, lubricants, and other chemicals, the aviation industry can generate significant water pollution.
Is Green Aviation Attainable?
Some people have high hopes when it comes to sustainable flying while there are also thinks that this is just an illusion. As of the moment, the aviation industry is still on the process of researching and finding ways on how to improve the flying experience. Yes, there are different ways on how to make aviation green. With the advancement of technology developing innovations is attainable.
How Aviation Can Go Green?
Aerospace has been considered as a major polluter for decades. The green technology acts in many forms on how it can help achieve green aviation. The basic principle of making it happen is to ensure that there is balance in social, economic, and environmental benefits. Here is the list of techniques that the aviation industry does to achieve green aviation:
- Aircraft fuel made from other sources
There is research conducted to source out possible fuel sources, such as sugar cane, cooking oil, and biomass. When sugar cane is converted into ketones, it can be a potential aviation fuel because it is a heavier compound. It is proven that fuel from sugar cane and other natural sources may efficiently cut greenhouse gas emissions. However, compared to conventional fuel, sourcing it out to natural sources is more costly.
- An engine that is made from lighter materials
Aircraft manufacturers are now into fuel-efficient engines. If an engine is made from lightweight materials, it tends to use less fuel for fewer emissions. Experts conducted test flights and they’ve confirmed that engines that are made from lighter materials use 20% less fuel.
- Newer shape and smaller vertical tail
NASA engineers are testing new shapes for airplanes that are wider, and double fuselage, and tube-like. Changing the shape of aircraft aims to improve fuel efficiency. They are not only targeting to improve the main body of the aircraft, but they are trying to create thinner wings that are made from lighter materials for efficient flying. Reducing the weight would also lead to a decrease in fuel consumption and emissions.
- The use of non-stick coating
During the flight, it can’t be avoided that insects, such as large bugs and debris cling to the plane’s wings during the flight. This forces the airplane to propel harder forward that requires the use of more fuel. When the body of the insects ruptures on the plane’s body, it releases a chemical that makes the surface stickier affecting the flight efficiency. A fuel-saving tip is the use of a non-stick coating to the surface of the plane. This coating effectively repels insects and residues for a smooth flight.
Sustainable Flying in Your Way
- Choose a direct flight. The greater the flight distance, there will be more carbon emissions. Opt for direct flights especially if your destination permits it.
- Choose a more sustainable airline. Some airlines already practice sustainable flying. These airlines practice green aviation by utilizing bio fuels. By supporting the least polluting airlines, you are making a difference.
- Choice of the seat while traveling. Taking up seats in the business class is more polluting because it takes up more space than seating in the economy class chair.
- Try to avoid air transport. This is the best way to avoid contributing to the overall harmful effects of the aviation industry.
Air travel is considered a necessity. With its importance, it can’t be avoided that it also has its downsides. Good thing, there are efforts from different sectors to focus and be committed to tackling environmental issues. Experts are not the only ones who can make a difference, but in your way, you can help the environment.