Etihad Airways has become the first airline to join the Aviation Impact Accelerator, an international group of practitioners and academics put together by the University of Cambridge to work on making aviation more sustainable. 

Further details 

UAE national carrier Etihad Airways has become the first ever airline to join the University of Cambridge’s Aviation Impact Accelerator (AIA) initiative. The airline joins American aerospace manufacturer Boeing and luxury car and later an aero-engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce as the three wish to partner with the AIA to accelerate their work towards achieving net zero by providing crucially detailed technical and policy expertise. 

Announced on the opening day of the 2022 Farnborough International Airshow, the AIA also launched a new interactive tool which aims to speed up progress in achieving net zero aviation across the globe, as well as hosting numerous panels. 

According to its website, AIA’s mission is to “accelerate the transition to climate neutral flight by developing evidence-based, multidisciplinary tools that allow decision makers to understand, build and embark on the pathways to sustainable flight.”

As of now, the AIA has a core team of 60 contributors and has gained helpful input from over 80 companies within the aviation sector. 

University of Cambridge's Aviation Impact Accelerator (AIA) event at COP26
University of Cambridge’s Aviation Impact Accelerator (AIA) event at COP26 in November last year. | © Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership via YouTube

Professor Rob Miller, Director of the Whittle Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, commented on Etihad’s commitment to the relatively new AIA:

“We are proud to be partnering with one of the world’s leading jet engine research labs to further support the decarbonisation of our industry. Etihad is committed to sustainability and the dedication of its fleet as flying test-beds for research and innovation through the Greenliner and Sustainable50 programmes, and this new collaboration with the University of Cambridge, through the Aviation Impact Accelerator, will allow for more industrial and academic synergy.” 

Etihad’s sustainability journey

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier has had its flagship Greenliner programme up and running for a while now. The newly launched Sustainable50 programme, considered to be a “world-beating product”, in partnership with European aerospace manufacturer Airbus and Rolls Royce also contributes heavily to the airline’s progress. 

In May, Etihad completed 42 sustainable test flights with its specially made Airbus A350 (the Sustainable50), allowing the carrier to analyse various technologies and procedures that will help reduce carbon emissions on flights. 

Etihad Airways Airbus Sustainable50
Etihad Airways’ Sustainable50. | © Etihad Airways

According to the carrier’s 2020-21 Sustainability Report in April, it has managed to half its carbon emissions by an impressive 56% between 2018 and 2021

And, in early July, Etihad was named Environmental Airline of the Year by AirlineRatings.com in its annual awards for its commitment and achievements toward improving sustainability in aviation. 

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group, spoke of the enlightening journey Etihad has been on thus far and the work still to be done:

“Our ambition to become a leader in aviation sustainability has taken us on a journey to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment, not just for Etihad, but for the entire industry. We continue to explore and test all possible ways to decarbonise – from research into sustainable aviation fuels and contrail avoidance to offsets and reforestation through the Etihad Mangroves. The Sustainability Report we published earlier this year is a culmination of our efforts demonstrating the work we have done and what we have learned so far and I would encourage everyone to read it.”

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