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Air transport and its environment

Scarcely more than a century after the advent of aviation, air transport has become a powerful driver for innovation as well as economic and social development. The aircraft is a remarkable resource for trade and social interaction, providing the necessary mobility for tourism, opening up inaccessible regions of the planet, transporting humanitarian aid, etc. Air transport: Accounts for almost 35% of trade in value terms and 2.2 billion passengers each year Generates more than 5.5 million direct jobs (manufacturing industry, airports and airlines) and more than 26 million indirect jobs (services, tourism, ...) worldwide. With the globalization of trade and rapid growth in emerging countries, demand for air transport is increasing by an average of almost 5% per year.

Responsibility :
For air transport to be sustainable it must meet the two-fold objective of reducing fossil fuel consumption and controlling its environmental footprint (impact on the climate, air quality and noise pollution). The move to moderate the sectors energy use serves the environment and adds to the competitiveness of our products.

It is now recognised that greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activity are a major cause of climate change. Currently, aviation accounts for 2 to 3% of the total. The industrys goal is to stabilize and then bring down this percentage in spite of the increase in air traffic.

Heat absorbed by atmospheric CO2 Sun rays reaching the ground Heat radiated towards outer space by CO2 Heat re emitted by CO2 towards ground


Heat radiated by ground

Beyond the reduction of CO2 emissions, the impact of contrails on the climate must also be precisely defined and their formation limited if necessary.

In airport environments, the impact of air traffic on air quality is mainly linked to emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx) and soot produced by combustion. Finally, reducing aircraft noise, which directly affects residents living close to airports, is essential for the development of air transport to be accepted.

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CO2 emissions
The Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997, requires the most industrialized nations to commit to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5% in the 2008-2012 period (using 1990 as a benchmark). Space technology is a key resource for observing the phenomena linked to climate change. In the longer term, satellites will be used to map CO2 emissions on a global scale, which should in turn enable us to monitor the extent to which international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been met.

One of the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol is the setting up of an international carbon credit trading scheme. The maximum CO2 emissions objectives of the European Union are defined in a system called the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The EU ETS currently applies to power stations and manufacturing plants which consume large amounts of energy, which is not the case for our manufacturing sites. From 2012 onwards, it will also cover emissions produced by aircraft serving Europes airports.
Air transport contribution to global man-made CO2 emissions


Air Transport

3-4% Sea Transport 15-17% Ground Transport


(Source GIEO, Stern Review)

Even if the actual contribution of air transport to global man-made CO2 emissions is limited, our sector is firmly committed to addressing global warming and reducing fossil-based energy consumption, not only in the design of its products but also in its manufacturing activities.

So , aware of its responsabilities, the air transport sector tries to evaluate and identify actions it can take to reduce emissions across all thier industrial activities. In anticipation of the energyrelated requirements of Grenelle II, GIFAS has prepared industry-specific guidelines to help companies, particulary SMEs, to prepare their carbon inventory.

Examples of best practice and avenues for improvement:

Energy-efficient buildings, infrastructure thermography Biomass-type boilers Promoting renewable energy Use of recycled materials (aluminium, etc.) /salvaging offcuts and shavings Inclusion of CO2 emissions as a supplier selection factor in calls for tender

Roof of the new building housing the A350 final assembly line made up of 22,000sqm of solar panels

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Five decades of steady progress

In moving forward on propulsion systems, aircraft weight and shape, and optimized flight and trajectory management, the industry has managed to reduce kerosene consumption by a factor of almost 5 in fifty years. On the A380, fuel consumption is less than 3 litres per passenger per 100km.

Advances in technology have brought about a 20dB noise reduction at source in the past fifty years, which is equivalent to a 10-fold reduction in sound amplitude.

Understanding and perfecting the combustion process has practically eliminated unburned hydrocarbons (UHCs) and reduced nitrogen oxide generation by a factor of 4 while maintaining high pressure in the combustion chamber to ensure efficient combustion.

Constantly innovating throughout the lifecycle

Sustainable development in the aerospace industry relies on evaluation and controlled reduction of the environmental impact of our products, from their composition, manufacture and use right through to EOL.



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Continuous research effort: the main innovation levers

The aerodynamic forces exerted on an aircraft during flight are thrust, weight, lift and drag. The aim is to find the optimum balance between these forces by reducing weight (lightening the airframe, for example by incorporating composite materials), increasing lift for certain stages of the flight (high-lift devices), reducing drag which slows down the aircraft and, of course, increasing thrust with more efficient engines.

Turbofans first appeared in the 1960s. In this type of engine, the chemical energy (fuel) is converted into propulsive power in two stages. In the core of the engine, the primary airflow, highly compressed and hot, converts the energy of combustion into mechanical energy. This energy is then used to compress the secondary (cold) airflow to create thrust. The key parameter for these engines is the by-pass ratio defined as the ratio of the secondary air flow to the primary air flow.

With air traffic projected to increase by 70% in Europe between now and 2020, the industry will need to adopt routes, flight profiles and flight paths to reduce flight times and fuel consumption and optimize airspace occupation without compromising safety. At the same time, procedures and flight paths will be modified to minimize perceived noise on the ground.

An increasingly integrated approach to Research & Development on the part of all air transport players, optimizing the inevitable technical compromises, will reduce the environmental footprint of aircraft.

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Work focus on 6 areas: propulsion, architecture and materials, systems and equipment, airport operations, air traffic management, production and lifecycle management.

1 Propulsion and propulsion integration

Fan High-pressure High-pressure compressor turbine High-pressure shaft

Low-pressure compressor

Low-pressure shaft Combustion chamber

Promising avenues of development: Improving the primary cycle, essentially by increasing temperature and pressure and controlling combustion and emissions. Increasing propulsion efficiency by increasing the bypass ratio (large diameter fan to slow down the exhaust expulsion speed). Making engines lighter and optimizing integration with the aircraft.

Low-pressure turbine


Noise Lightweight technologies

Fuel consumption



0,7 4 8 12 16

The higher by-pass ratios of todays engines reduce both noise and fuel consumption. However, while noise continues to diminish, fuel consumption quickly reaches a minimum threshold due to the increase in weight and drag caused by the low pressure sections and the nacelle. The use of lightweight technologies such as composite materials pushes this minimum threshold down further.

By-pass ratio

Improved performance thanks to new materials: Organic matrix composites with woven carbon fibre reinforcement (200kg reduction in engine weight on the A320) Ceramic composite for the hot sections

Innovative technology to: reduce perceived noise exploit synergies between aircraft propulsion and aerodynamics
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2 Architecture and materials

Airframe weight reduction Progress in this area relies first on the use of high-performance materials such as carbon fibre composites. Nonetheless, new metalworking techniques like friction welding, large part machining and cast assemblies can also help to reduce airframe weight. The introduction of a load control system improves airframe design by reducing the maximum load the airframe can withstand.

Reducing drag The addition of wingtip devices (or winglets) to reduce wingtip vortices is now standard practice. Drag can be further reduced by integrating the wingtip device into the wing design. Designing wing shapes that maintain the maximum laminar airflow area (at the cost of a reduction in cruising speed) is a promising avenue for reducing friction drag.

Noise reduction Engine integration that takes advantage of the inherent noise-masking capabilities of the aircrafts existing structures (empennage in particular) is the preferred approach to reducing noise pollution caused by jet engines. For noise generated by protuberances (landing gear and high-lift devices), smart fairing solutions are being studied.

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3 Equipment and systems

Aircraft equipment manufacturers contribute to reducing aircraft weight with lighter and more efficient equipment: landing gear using composite materials or titanium, carbon brakes, cabin fittings, etc. The advent of more-electric aircraft will result in lower life cycle cost, better propulsion efficiency and a lesser impact on the environment. Ongoing research aims to replace the current energy carriers (hydraulic fluids and compressed air) with electrical current and achieve significant reductions in fuel consumption. Green taxiing, whereby the wheels are driven by individual electric motors rather than the aircrafts jet engines, is an idea that engineers are currently developing. Finally, high-lift devices and landing gear are designed to reduce noise on final approach.

The avionics and onboard systems constitute the intelligence of the aircraft, giving it the ability to carry out the functions necessary to its operations, in optimal conditions of safety and security. These functions are becoming increasingly complex as more and more social responsibility issues (e.g. reduction of perceived noise and polluting emissions) and competitiveness factors (operational costs, consumption, performance, availability, new capabilities, etc.) have to be taken into account.

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Airport operations
Greener airports Eleven European airport service companies, including Aroports de Paris, participate in the Airport Carbon Accreditation scheme which enables them to manage and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Regular progress checks are carried out by independent auditors. More environment-friendly ground operations The move towards all-electric aircraft, which will eliminate the hydraulic system and use the airports universal electrical infrastructure instead of an aircrafts APU to start the engines for example, will lead to more environment-friendly ground operations. Reducing taxiing Reducing the amount of time aircraft spend on the ground, taxiing and particularly waiting to take off, is a European objective. This can be achieved with better coordination and more sophisticated IT systems. Aroports de Paris has committed to reducing the average taxiing time at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport by 10% by 2015, in liaison with the relevant parties.

Air traffic management
Air traffic management (ATM) is evolving towards a global approach based on the concept of optimum end-to-end flight path involving the various stakeholders (airspace users, air traffic control, airport operators, etc.) in a collaborative initiative.

This new approach is based on monitoring information in real time (weather conditions, traffic, etc.), sharing it via an ATM intranet, increased automation (allowing humans to focus on high value-added tasks), etc. Central to these concerns is the development of green operations (optimized flight plans, continuous descent approach, optimization of airport resources, etc.).

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Eco-responsible production

Beyond regulatory compliance, the aerospace manufacturing industry is voluntarily committed to reducing its environmental footprint whenever possible, employing environmental management systems (mainly ISO 14001 certification) to achieve this goal.

Reduce water, electricity and fossil-based energy consumption, wastewater discharge, CO2 emissions and minimize waste
A large number of companies in the sector have defined ambitious programmes aimed at reducing their emissions impacting on the environment (air, water and soil).

Adopt a valorization/recycling approach,

which is both environmentfriendly and economic, on the basis that secondary production (recycling) processes are generally more economic and consume less energy than primary production processes and taking into account the increasing raw materials requirements of industry worldwide. The aerospace sector pays particular attention to carbon waste from composite residues and is developing innovative technologies (pyrolysis, solvolysis) to process it.

With 7,000 aircraft worldwide ready for dismantling within the next 20 years, there is a need for safe, environmentfriendly EOL solutions. The European project PAMELA (Process for Advanced Management of End-of-Life Aircraft), coordinated by Airbus, has given rise to the industrial company Tarmac Aerosave bringing together Airbus, Sita, Aeroconseil, EquipAero and Snecma, allowing for up to 85% of an aircrafts constitutive parts to be recycled.

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Limit and eliminate the most hazardous substances and preparations

Considerable effort is put into eliminating substances like chromates, cadmium, lead in electronics, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), substances that deplete the ozone layer (halons for example), radionuclides and so on from manufacturing processes and products and replacing them with more environment-friendly alternatives. The replacement process calls for a substantial commitment bearing in mind the long development cycles of the industry, the approvals necessary to ensure safety and reliability, and also the need to adapt the supply chain.

Examples of best practice and avenues for improvement:

Developing more environment-friendly surface treatment

techniques, e.g.: - Eliminating chemical masking operations - Substituting sulfochromic pickling and chromic anodizing Reducing VOC emissions by developing water-soluble and/or high NVC paints Eliminating or cutting down on cleaning/scouring operations Publishing sector-specific technical guides on key issues such as REACh and radiation protection.

REACh (Registration Evaluation Authorization of Chemicals) is the European regulatory framework in force for controlling chemical substances in Europe. Its main objective is to ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment. Substances of very high concern (SVHCs) could ultimately be banned and substitutes must therefore be found. The banning or phasing out of certain substances will have an impact on the techniques and products of the sector. Users at the lower end of the supply chain (as most of our industries tend to be) must now ensure that any specific use they might make of these substances is registered by the manufacturers/importers higher up. If an SVHC makes up more than 0.1% of a product on the market, the customer must be provided with information which has to be passed down throughout the entire supply chain.

The ability of the sector and the supply chain to anticipate and adapt to the profound changes brought about by REACh is key to ensuring that production processes will be able to comply with the regulations.
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Ensuring a sustainable future for air transport: 2020-2050

2020 vision:
In 2000, a strategic agenda was set by the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) to develop the technology on new aircraft to meet the following objectives by 2020: Greenhouse gases: 50% reduction in CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions Local pollutants: 80% reduction in NOx (nitrogen oxide) emissions Noise: 50% reduction in perceived noise The SESAR programme, Europes key air transport management initiative, has set itself the target of reducing fuel consumption by 10% per flight. Clean Sky, the most far-reaching research programme ever conducted by European industry in conjunction with the European Commission, launched in 2008, brings together all industry stakeholders (aircraft, engine and equipment manufacturers) with the aim of meeting more than half the objectives set by ACARE.

In France, a new dynamic was created in 2008 with the formation of the civil aviation research council, Corac, which brings together national stakeholders including manufacturers, operators and government. Corac coordinates research efforts based on a common technology roadmap. A series of technology demonstrators was put forward for funding in 2010 under Frances national investment programme for the future (Great Loan). The aim is to speed up progress of our industry towards achieving the objectives set by ACARE.

2050 vision:
This new long-term strategy prepared for the European Commission in early 2011 by a high-level group representing several industry sectors (infrastructure, aircraft, operation, fuels and research) calls for all parties to work towards a cleaner, safer, more competitive and reliable aviation sector by 2050, while at the same time paying particular attention to the needs of society and its citizens. The main environmental objectives applicable to new aircraft for 2050 are: A 75% reduction in CO2 emissions per passenger/km A 90% reduction in NOx emissions A 65% reduction in perceived noise taking 2000 as the reference year.

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To decouple the relationship between the increase in CO 2 emissions and the increase in air traffic, we must simultaneously: Pursue and step up technological research and development Replace ageing fleets with the latest models Make air traffic more efficient Develop alternative fuels with a low carbon footprint.

Key factors for reduction of CO2 emissions (Source: IATA)

Estimated emissions growth without reduction measures

Ongoing fleet renewal/ technological development

CO2 emissions

ATM improvement Economical measures Reference level Low carbon footprint alternative fuels



By combining efforts in all these areas, the air transport sector could halve its total CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels.

In March 2011, the European Commission stated in its Transport Strategy for 2050 that the aim was to increase the proportion of sustainable, low-carbon fuels used in air transport to 40% by 2050. Alternative fuels but not at any price: the development of alternative fuels must be sustainable, i.e. it must not use areas of land and quantities of water and energy that would interfere with the food chain or fresh water resources. One solution is to use drop-in fuels: alternative fuels that can be mixed with conventional kerosene in different proportions without modifying the engine or the required properties (wide operating temperature range, safety, etc.). The airlines, including Air France-KLM, are involved, and the engine and aircraft manufacturers are assisting the chemical and refining industry with the specifications and test flights. Biofuels: 80%* less CO2 than fossil-based kerosene During their growth cycle, the plants used to make biofuels absorb the CO2 available in the atmosphere. Although biofuels, like traditional kerosene, produce CO2 during the combustion phase (3.15 tonnes of CO2per tonne of fuel burnt), lifecycle analysis (taking into account cultivation, harvesting, processing and final use) reveals a reduction in CO2 of up to 80% compared with fossil-based kerosene.
* Michigan Technology University (May 2009)

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Satellites watching over the earth

To protect our planet, we need to monitor and understand it better. Nowadays, everything that affects the earth can be studied in great detail from space thanks to satellites which provide a unique and comprehensive means of continuously observing our environment and monitoring climate change. Satellites improve our scientific understanding of the planets systems, for example by analysing ocean currents, studying the effect of clouds on the climate or measuring tiny variations in the earths gravitational field. (see GOCE satellite in the opposite picture).

From a more operational point of view, space technology is used to monitor phenomena such as desertification, state of the oceans and coastal zones, and changes in the earths vegetation or the stratospheric ozone layer. Constant monitoring of climate change and natural hazards (cyclones, tsunamis, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, pollution, etc.) using a combination of ground and satellite-based systems should enable the necessary action to be taken as quickly as possible and even predict disasters. GMES (Global Monitoring of Environment and Security) is a major EU programme which, using a combination of space systems and in situ sensors (groundbased, airborne or seaborne), is intended to create autonomous earth monitoring capability for environmental and security purposes, on a scale ranging from local to global. Some preoperational services are already available, for example in cartography.

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We are now accustomed to seeing images of the earths atmosphere taken by weather satellites. These images, as well as other observational data gathered in space, on the ground and within the atmosphere itself, are used to create more and more accurate weather forecasting models.

Geostationary satellites are positioned at an altitude of approximately 36.000 km above the Equator. Because they are fixed in relation to the earths surface, they can take pictures of the same portion of the globe continuously.

Satellites orbiting at lower altitudes (approx. 800 km) on paths passing close to the poles are also used. Because they are closer to the earth, these satellites provide more accurate data relating to humidity, the composition of the atmosphere, etc. The European satellite METOP was launched by ESA and EUMETSAT in 2006.

Sustainable space
Satellites are exposed to the risk of collision with other objects and debris on the busiest orbit paths. The number of objects bigger than 10cm (inactive satellites still in orbit, spent rocket third stages, collision debris, etc.) is estimated at more than 14.000. It is important to find the right balance between collision prevention and prediction: Limiting the amount of debris created as well as the presence of objects in sensitive orbits that must be protected: inter-agency discussions to address the systematic de-orbiting of rocket upper stages and satellites at the end of their lifetime are underway. Development of monitoring systems to detect and track the orbital path of satellites and space debris larger than a few centimetres (in low orbit).
Antennas of the Graves radar for tracking objects in low orbit.

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Gifas, which stands for Groupement des Industries Franaises Aronautiques et Spatiales, is a trade association with almost 300 members, from major prime contractors and system suppliers to equipment manufacturers and small specialist companies. Gifas provides stakeholders with solutions to the major environmental challenges we face (climate change, air quality, noise pollution, the depletion of natural resources, handling of chemicals and waste, etc.) and promotes the sustainable development of the aerospace sector. Through specialist Commissions, Gifas members have access to strategic information which enables them to anticipate and carry out joint initiatives. The aerospace industrys environmental commitments and initiatives: (News - Environment) CORP software (designed by Gifas and developed with Safran and Thales) for Health-Safety-Environment monitoring and regulatory compliance:

Launched by the French ministry of Environment & Sustainable Development within the framework of the Grenelle Environment Forum and chaired by the French Transport Minister, Corac (which stands for Conseil pour la Recherche Aronautique Civile - Civil aviation research council) brings together all French civil aviation industry stakeholders, including manufacturers, airlines, airports, air navigation services, Gifas, 3AF, Onera and various government departments (Research, Defence, Industry, Civil Aviation). Its role is to define and implement research and technological innovation actions with a view to: Meeting the environmental objectives set for 2020 at European level Increasing the sectors competitiveness. A leading website for the aerospace industry, research and the environment:
Editorial team: Members of the Gifas Research & Development, Environment & Sustainable Development and Space Commissions and of the Corac Steering Committee. Design: Epcom/May 2011

Photos - EUMETSAT - ESA - NASA - ADP - AIr France - Copyright - All images non referenced come from GIFAS member companies.