Dubai: As the aviation industry eagerly anticipates the upcoming Paris Air Show next week and the Dubai Air Show in November 2023, a recent global survey involving 325 aviation decision-makers across six countries, including the UAE, reveals a shared commitment to sustainability alongside significant investments. However, the survey also highlights the urgent need for accelerated support to achieve the industry’s ambitious goal for 2050.
The survey, conducted by Ipsos on behalf of GE Aerospace, shows an overwhelming majority of companies say they are turning sustainability words into action, with 76 percent of respondents believing sustainability has fundamentally changed the way the industry operates and a majority of those with sustainability strategies in place indicating that their company sustainability investments will grow or remain steady, even amid rising inflation and risk of recession.
Nearly one-third of respondents (30 percent) identify meeting the industry’s sustainability goal as the top current challenge, surpassing supply chain (19 percent) and labor issues (11 percent). This mirrors the industry’s broader sustainability push and collective goal of reaching net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. A strong majority (88 percent) report that their organizations already have sustainability strategies in place, with most saying that sustainability strategies have already had a major or moderate impact on how their company operates (74 percent), invests (73 percent), and hires (62 percent).
Mr. Allen Paxson, Vice President and General Manager of Commercial Programs Strategy, at GE Aerospace, stated that, “These results show that the aviation industry is committed to the goal of achieving net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, while also recognizing the need to accelerate efforts and ensure all key stakeholders are on the playing field. With GE Aerospace and our partner engines powering three-quarters of the world’s flights, we recognize the important responsibility we have to meet the industry ramp and do so more sustainably and more efficiently for our customers.”
While 46 percent believe the industry will meet its net zero goal by 2050, 32 percent say it will not, and 22 percent are unsure. On average, respondents believe the target will be met by 2055 and identify rising costs, budgetary pressure, supply issues, and energy resources as the biggest hurdles. 29 percent of respondents selected government as the external group applying the most pressure to accelerate sustainability, with 61 percent showing a preference for incentives and policy support over mandates and regulation. Respondents rank increased sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) investment as the number one most important role for government to play in reaching the 2050 goal.
GE Aerospace began testing SAF in 2007, and today, all GE Aerospace and partner engines can run on approved SAF blends. The company, its customers, and partners are leading the way in the development of more efficient equipment, investing $2 billion in 2022 in aviation research and development. CFM, a joint venture between GE Aerospace and Safran, targets a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and emissions in one generation compared to current engines through its Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engines (RISE) program. GE Aerospace is also collaborating with NASA and Boeing to develop a megawatt-class hybrid electric powertrain as part of its Electrified Powertrain Flight Demonstration project. CFM also plans to develop a hydrogen combustion engine for ground and flight tests with Airbus.
In October 2021, members of the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), including GE Aerospace, adopted a long-term climate goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, confirming the aviation industry’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions in support of the Paris Agreement.