The Heat Is On
Glenn Frey, a founding member and front man for the hugely successful rock band The Eagles, hit #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in March 1985 with his solo recording of “The Heat is On.”
And so it is—many of us experiencing the heat and wildfires of Northern Hemisphere summer will not be surprised to learn that the World Meteorological Organization just predicted that July 2023 was the hottest month ever recorded.
While the Ukraine-Russia war rages on, leaders across the business and general aviation industry are concurrently battling less tangible but nonetheless dangerous adversaries. In 2023, sporadic and noisy opposition to the industry has accelerated, with small groups of well-organized antagonists seizing opportunities to place “private jets” in the media’s bad-boy crosshairs. European policymakers are being urged to ban the use of private jets or at least single-out the sector for punitive treatments based on the industry’s comparatively high carbon footprints per passenger.
In June 2023, transport ministers from Austria, France, and the Netherlands urged the European Union to implement operating restrictions on private jets across the region. Some environmental activists are going so far as seeking to sour the public’s opinion of all-things aviation—even calling for special taxes on airline frequent flyers, who they say are the 1% of the world population responsible for 50% of all aviation emissions.
If anything should be clear in the oppressive heat and smoky haze of the Summer of ’23, it is high time to lower the temperature of these types of confrontations. While progress on the environmental sustainability of entire industries is being made at varying speeds, civil aviation is no couch potato—and business aviation is surely amongst the technological innovators.
Reaching a target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is a lofty but achievable industry goal to avert the worst impacts of climate change. In business and general aviation, this will require a wide combination of investments and actions, including new technologies (propulsion systems, aircraft, and sustainable aviation fuels - SAF), more efficient airport and enroute operations and market mechanisms such as levies, emissions trading, book & claim, and carbon offsetting.
R&D investments in next-generation business and general aviation aircraft, engines, and related technologies will continue to propel the industry forward towards its greener and more sustainable future powered by new hybrid, electric, and hydrogen propulsion systems.
Business aviation’s track record of innovation is surely no assurance of future performance, but our optimism is grounded in the fact that technical progress is what has always defined and competitively differentiated the industry.
While few seek the hot seat in what has become an emotional debate between industry antagonists and advocates, there is some irony in the realization that public attention might be just what we need to galvanize our attention around the imperative to accelerate green tech investments. With timelines stretching to bring new aircraft and powerplants to market, and a fleet of ~40,000 long-lived turbine business aircraft already in service, it is high time to push the throttles full-forward into our future.
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JETNET iQ Creator/Director
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