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Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia attract...

Wed 22 Mar 2017 – A year after issuing a joint Request for Information (RFI) from parties interested in supporting the development and production of sustainable aviation fuel in the region, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia say they have had strong interest both locally and from abroad. The airlines have now completed an extensive review of more than 30 responses from organisations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe and the United States. When announcing the RFI, the airline partners said that while the aviation biofuel development was accelerating internationally, it was not the case in their region. A roadmap report published in 2011 by the Australian government science research agency CSIRO found that by 2020 a 5 per cent bio-derived jet fuel share could be possible in Australia and New Zealand, expanding to 40 per cent by 2050. Despite both airlines having engaged in a number of early alternative fuel initiatives, progress so far has been slow however.

Using aviation biofuels could reduce aircraft...

Mon 20 Mar 2017 – Using biofuels to help power jet engines reduces particle emissions in their exhaust by as much as 50 to 70 per cent and so can help reduce contrail formations that produce climate warming effects, say research scientists led by NASA. The findings, published in the journal Nature, follow a series of flight tests undertaken in 2013 and 2014 as part of the Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions Study, or ACCESS, in which NASA partnered with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the National Research Council Canada (NRC). The tests involved flying NASA’s workhorse DC-8 as high as 40,000 feet while its four engines burned a 50/50 blend of conventional jet fuel mixed with camelina-derived biofuel. A trio of research aircraft took turns to fly behind the aircraft at distances ranging from 300 feet to more than 20 miles to take measurements and study contrail formation.

Incidents of severe aircraft turbulence likely...

Wed 12 Apr 2017 – Incidents of severe aircraft turbulence on transatlantic routes are likely to become twice or even three times more common as a result of climate change, finds a new study from the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading in the UK. The study used supercomputer simulations of the atmosphere to calculate how wintertime transatlantic clear-air turbulence would change at an aircraft’s cruising altitude of around 39,000 feet (12 km) in response to a doubling in the concentration of CO2 levels in the atmosphere, which scientists predict will occur later this century. The results show the average amount of light turbulence increasing by 59 per cent, rising to 149 per cent for severe turbulence. A significant number of injuries to passengers and crew already take place each year, as well as damage to aircraft, and the study concludes an intensification of clear-air turbulence could have important consequences for aviation.

North American airports recognised for their...

Fri 7 Apr 2017 – Miami International Airport, Indianapolis Airport Authority, Minneapolis-St Paul Metropolitan Airports Commission and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport have been announced as this year’s winners of the ACI-NA Environmental Achievement Awards. The four awards by trade association Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA) recognise outstanding achievement in the categories of Environmental Management; Environmental Mitigation; Outreach, Education and Community Involvement; and Innovative/Special Projects. A runner-up award was made to Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The awards were started in 1997 and winning airports are required to demonstrate the environmental benefit of their project and its innovative approach, effective implementation, applicability and cost-effectiveness. Meanwhile, Dallas Fort Worth has received a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Climate Leadership Award for Organizational Leadership.

Swedish project looks to narrow the emissions...

Tue 11 Apr 2017 – Until now, calculating emissions from aircraft in Sweden has assumed airlines take the straightest and shortest routes, despite this not being the usual case in real-world conditions. A collaboration involving the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), the Swedish Transport Agency and Sweden’s air navigation service provider LFV is now trying to narrow the gap between estimated and actual flight paths. The project has involved FOI, a leading defence and security research institute that also studies the environmental impact of aircraft, accessing LFV’s radar tracks from 2,200 domestic flights during a few weeks in 2016. By studying the radar tracks, FOI has been able to refine its calculation model and bring down the difference by around 8 per cent. LFV said the outcome could lead to lower fuel consumption and a reduced climate impact from the aviation sector.

Seaweed cultivation could provide a promising...

Tue 28 Mar 2017 – Seaweed could become a promising source of biofuels for aviation if sustainably produced and economic and policy challenges can be overcome, says a report by Norwegian NGO Bellona. Seaweeds, or macroalgae, generally contain high amounts of carbohydrates (sugars) that make them highly suitable for bioethanol and biobutanol production, where the sugars are fermented. They belong to the fastest growing species in the world and growth rates far exceed those of terrestrial plants, plus the rapid growth also means they absorb significant amounts of CO2. Most importantly, they do not compete for valuable land space or fresh water during cultivation as do many crops grown for biofuels. Industrial seaweed cultivation, where it is mainly used in food production and pharmaceuticals, is largely confined to Asia whereas in Europe it is in the very early development phase. However, says the report, there is a golden opportunity to design a high-potential sustainable aviation biofuel industry effectively from scratch.