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Editorial comment - April 2017

Although we are not yet at the stage where biofuels will replace traditional fuels, there is a clear collective ambition by airlines to push for sustainable alternative aviation jet fuels – mostly biojet fuels.

I recently had the opportunity to fly on board the first ATR-operated biofuel flight over Sweden – a BRA ATR 72-600, and it brought home the seriousness that airlines and aircraft manufacturers are placing on meeting ambitious emissions goals. 


The European Commission states that the aviation industry already accounts for 2% of all anthropogenic CO2 emissions and 12% of emissions from the transport sector, with flights generating 628 million tonnes of CO2 every year. However, the world’s commercial aircraft fleet is expected to double in size over the next 20 years to accommodate an increase in demand. As a result, the aviation industry is faced with the dual challenge of meeting the growing demand for air travel, while at the same time reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. Around 80% of aviation CO2 emissions are generated by flights of over 1,500km, for which there is no practical alternative mode of transport, so the only way to meet this challenge is to increase the efficiency of aircraft and the environmental performance of the fuels they use.


Airframe manufacturers like ATR and airlines such as BRA are taking the issue of sustainability extremely seriously in order to ensure that aviation biofuels deliver on their promise of long-term sustainability. ATR say they want to incentivise biofuel producers and operators to pursue compliance and certification under high sustainability standards.


A big challenge facing the adoption of biofuels in aviation is the high standard quality requirement, but with over 1,600 [IATA] passenger flights having already operated using alternative fuel, there is definitely a strong will out there for sustainable flying.  

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Disclaimer text: The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily express the views of Air Transport Publications Ltd. or any of its publications.