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Green Aviation’s New Heights

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Green Aviation’s New Heights
July 10
12:22 2015

Green aviation is climbing to new heights. From the amazing flight of the Solar Impulse 2 to the use of biofuels, there is an effort being made to curb the industry’s impact on the environment.

A Start with Solar Impulse 2

Aviation enthusiasts and much of the world followed the Solar Impulse 2 as it completed its historic five-day, non-stop flight over the Pacific Ocean. Last week, the experimental solar-powered airplane finished its most treacherous portion of its journey around the world. In the process it crushed the record for the longest duration solo flight without refueling of 118 hours. The BBC reported that Swiss pilot André Borschberg, 62-year-old CEO of the Solar Impulse project spent the week in the cramped cockpit of his aircraft, sleeping for only 20-minute stretches at a time.

It was an incredible milestone for the fuel-free aircraft’s journey from Japan to Hawaii. It was also the longest solo manned flight in history. It doesn’t mean that commercial solar-powered flight is going to happen tomorrow but it’s on its way.

Climate Change, Biofuels and Better Planes  

Climate change is an issue and that’s why airlines and aircraft manufacturers are building solutions and greener alternatives. It is estimated that aircraft emissions make up five percent of all greenhouse gases that are deposited directly into the upper atmosphere.  Experts say that number could grow so the following efforts are a positive trend.

United Airlines announced it would invest $30 million in a program that would produce jet fuel from trash. Fulcrum BioEnergy specializes in producing both aviation and diesel fuel from ordinary household waste. The California-based company committed to produce up to 180 million gallons of this fuel per year.  The U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Agriculture supported the program concluding that it has met “all of the aviation industry and military technical requirements and specifications.”

– Virgin Atlantic has switched to more efficient aircraft.  The Boeing 787 Dreamliner cut its carbon intensity while increasing profitability. According to Virgin, the company’s level of carbon dioxide emissions per mile dropped was down 10 percent from 2007 levels.

-At the Paris Air Show there was a special focus on green issues, according to Discovery News. Airbus revealed a prototype all-electric plane called the E-Fan.  The European company also announced that its Airbus A320neo offers a 15 percent cut in fuel consumption. The plane has racked up a record 3,800 pre-orders as a result.

There’s no doubt that the Solar Impulse 2 showed the world what is possible with forward aviation thinking and a bit of courage.  In combination with the latest efforts,  is there more to be done to promote and push green aviation?

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