Just like any other economic activity, aviation affects the environment on a variety of ways. At the same time, the branch takes its responsibility towards it very seriously.
As expected, a major worry for the industry remains the amount of aviation-related greenhouse gas emissions and its notorious contribution to global climate change (although conditioned upon the type of aircraft being used, high concentrations of various poisonous emissions are discharged in the atmosphere on an hourly basis). Disturbance caused by aircraft noise, though substantially less harmful, accounts for another manifestation of aviation’s impact on the environment.
Surprisingly enough, aviation is accountable for producing a very small portion of the world’s man-made emissions of carbon dioxide. In fact, although the industry has been experiencing continuous growth pertaining to total numbers of passengers carried, aviation has succeeded in decoupling its emissions’ growth in the past couple of years. The success in question is a result of enormous investments made in developing, sustaining, and upgrading cutting-edge technology, as well as operating procedures. In sum, various technical developments taking place since the mid-twentieth century have brought about today’s aircraft being considerably more environmentally-friendly than their gas-guzzling ancestors.
Unlike the emissions described above, noise from aircraft mostly impacts those living around airports, as well as underneath numerous landing and taking-off flight paths. The industry has been diligently thriving to reduce this type of noise for decades: as a result, these days an average aircraft is substantially quieter than its counterpart from a decade ago. Thanks to vast investments made in research and development sectors of all principal aircraft manufacturers, each upcoming generation of aircraft will be notably quieter than the preceding one.
In 2006, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the United Nations’ intergovernmental body responsible for monitoring civil aviation, came up with a new noise certification standard, named Chapter 4. Its goal is to ensure that new aircraft are at least 10 decibels (or one third) quieter than those built to comply with the previous (Chapter 3) standard. The certification in question remains one of the many different measures aiming to reduce jet engine noise. Thanks to the aforementioned norm, the number of households directly affected by aircraft-made noise has already been reduced; in days to come, the figure in question will be even lower. At the same time, relying upon manufacturers and manufacturers alone to reduce the nuisance is not enough: instead, a balanced approach to noise reduction has been employed for quite some time now and has already given a string of magnificent results.
From the very moment aircraft are designed, arrays of dedicated engineers come together in order to make them faster, cleaner, and more efficient. In chorus, the industry is doing its best to limit its multi-layered environmental impact; ever-emerging, yet costly technologies certainly have the potential to significantly decrease the level of emitted greenhouse gases whereas other solutions being implemented on a daily basis keep promising other savings. However, the branch itself cannot solve all the problems it has been encountering for decades. Passengers too can do a lot when it comes to protecting the environment they depend upon: for instance, although airports around the globe struggle to enhance their infrastructure by investing in, for instance, fast trains connecting them to city centers, passengers are the ones making the final decision when it comes to accessing airports. If each of us opted for public transportation instead on insisting on driving to an airport, the amount of aviation-related greenhouse gases would considerably dwindle over time. In the end, resources otherwise spent in enhancing aircraft’s eco-friendliness might end up re-channeled and poured into boosting passenger coziness. Talking about killing two birds with one stone…
In reality, not many industries operate with a constant efficiency increase when compared to previous periods; actually, aviation seems to be one of a very few currently capable of confidently predicting further improvement kicking in by the end of the upcoming decade. The likely upgrade is, and there is no doubt about it, partially induced by the industry’s blatant awareness concerning its own operations: perfectly capable of comprehending the multiplicity of ways in which aviation affects the community (either local or global), those working in the branch are constantly thriving to do their best in order to both serve and protect all the involved parties.
On these pages you can find out more about what the aviation industry is doing to improve its environmental performance, including the declaration signed by the industry.