by John Schubert, Managing Director – Marketing, Asia Pacific and India, The Boeing Company
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Boeing understands that environmental leadership and innovation are crucial to the long-term sustainable growth of the travel, tourism and commercial aviation industries.
Air travel helps drive economic growth and prosperity and brings the people of the world closer together. Since 1980, air travel – measured in revenue-passenger-kilometers – has grown at a rate of approximately five percent annually – a trend we expect to continue.
We anticipate even higher growth rates in our industry, in markets such as Southeast Asia, China, the Middle East and Latin America, where a growing middle class will have the means and desire to travel. To meet this passenger demand, Boeing has forecast that the commercial airplane fleet will double in size over the next 20 years. Growth in our industry is good news: air transport supports an estimated 56.6 million jobs and about 5 percent of global gross domestic product.
At the same time, we recognize that our industry has a responsibility to grow sustainably. Today, air transport accounts for about 2 percent of total manmade CO2 emissions, a figure projected to grow to about 3 percent by 2030 without further action. Boeing is committed to helping our industry meet its goals of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 and halving net carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.
Our industry has come a long way: today’s airplanes are 70 percent more fuel efficient and 90 percent quieter than the first jets of the 1960s. And Boeing and our industry are continuing the journey toward great efficiency.
To do so, we have a comprehensive environmental strategy that includes designing and building more fuel-efficient airplanes, improving gate-to-gate operational efficiency for our customers, developing sustainable aviation biofuel and reducing our company’s environmental footprint. These pillars are good for the business of air travel as well as the planet we share.
First and foremost, Boeing is investing to further improve the efficiency of our airplanes, which reduces our customers’ fuel costs and airplane carbon emissions. The best-known example is the 787 Dreamliner family, which improves fuel efficiency – and reduces CO2 emissions – by 20 to 30 percent compared to airplanes it replaces.
Future Boeing airplanes such as the 737 MAX and 777X will continue to provide airlines with superior efficiency and economics. In addition to reducing fuel use and emissions, these products will enable carriers to reduce costs and increase profitability in their respective markets.
Boeing is also investing in a cleaner future through research into lightweight materials, advanced aerodynamics and hybrid-, solar- and electric-powered aircraft. More than 75 percent of our research and development funding supports greater efficiency and environmental performance in our products, services and facilities.
The Boeing ecoDemonstrator Program, for example, has tested more than 40 new technologies that can reduce fuel use, emissions and noise in commercial airplanes. In this program, which is currently using the ecoDemonstrator 757 to test aerodynamic efficiency technologies, we look for opportunities to reduce environmental impact across the airplane’s life cycle, from design and manufacturing to in-service operation and airplane retirement.
We also offer new digital solutions that improve customers’ operational efficiency, saving fuel, time and money and reducing carbon emissions. One smart application, the new Boeing Fuel Dashboard, provides aircraft operators with a comprehensive total fleet view of operational fuel consumption. This is part of Boeing’s easy-to-implement fuel-efficiency solutions suite, which offers broad savings opportunities.
Boeing also partners with governments, airlines, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other stakeholders to improve air travel’s systemwide efficiency, with a goal to reach 95 percent efficiency by 2025 and 98 percent efficiency by 2050.
Modernization of the global air traffic management (ATM) infrastructure is crucial to these goals. This would allow airlines to take advantage of new airplane capabilities by making flights more direct and fuel efficent, and allow pilots to reduce fuel consumption, carbon emissions and community noise, particularly during landings. Investment in a global ATM infrastructure is essential to long-term environmental progress, as modern systems could boost efficiency for all airplanes flying by as much as 12 percent.
Boeing also is the industry leader in global efforts to develop and commercialize “drop-in” sustainable aviation biofuel. This fuel, which is blended directly with traditional jet fuel without any changes to airplanes, engines or fueling infrastructure, reduces CO2 emissions by an estimated 50 to 80 percent compared to fossil fuel through its lifecycle. To date, airlines have made more than 1,600 flights using approved aviation biofuel, which meets or exceeds jet fuel performance standards.
In Southeast Asia, Boeing is working with airlines, governments and nongovernment organizations to develop a sustainable aviation biofuel “road map”. In 2013, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) in partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), met in Bangkok to conduct a workshop on aviation biofuel and sustainable agriculture. Boeing, a founding member of SAFUG, has been deeply involved in similar road-mapping efforts in several countries, including China, Brazil and the United States.
Boeing has also reduced our company’s environmental footprint at our production facilities. Two of our airplane factories are powered by 100 percent renewable energy, and about half of Boeing’s total electricity consumption comes from carbon-free hydroelectric and renewable energy sources. Boeing has set aggressive goals for zero growth of companywide greenhouse gas emissions, water intake and solid waste to landfills between 2012 and 2017, even as our business continues to grow.
Beyond our products, facilities and industry support, Boeing collaborates with research institutions, customers, universities and governments to partner with local communities to support environmental protection and preservation. In Indonesia, for example, Boeing has partnered with The Nature Conservancy in support of the Berau Forest Carbon Program, which aims to bring nearly 2 million acres (800,000 hectares) of forest land on the island of Borneo under effective management. This would reduce Indonesia’s carbon footprint, protect biodiversity and improve the livelihoods of local communities.
We all recognize that environmental progress requires not only commitment but a comprehensive approach throughout the air transport system to meet the expanding demand for air travel while minimizing our industry’s environmental impact.
Boeing is committed to leading in these areas and finding the innovations and solutions that will benefit our customers, their passengers and our planet.