Travel Radar had the opportunity to attend Foresight Aerospace 2020, live virtual conference on sustainable aviation. It provided a fascinating insight into how the future may look. Covid-19 has impacted the entire industry but is sustainable aviation still a priority?
With oil at around $30 a barrel is there any motivation for airlines to continue investing in sustainable aviation fuels? Adam Morton, head of environmental technology at Rolls Royce says ‘currently 1% of fuel used is SAF. The oil price drop will probably have been overcome by the time SAF is widely used’. Lufthansa and IAG have both said that they are committed to SAF development in the future and a sustainable recovery in flying.
The cancellation of the Airbus E-Fan X project indicates that manufacturers will need to reduce investment in research projects. In a positive sign, Glen Llewllyn, VP of zero emissions at Airbus, said ‘sustainability is now, more than ever, part of our agenda […]we need to ensure we come out of this crisis in a healthy position to be able to accelerate these projects in the future’. Toby Gibbs of Logika consultants stated ‘Public opinion will demand future investment in SAFs and other technologies.’
There are other signs to be positive according to Nikhil Sachdeva, a consultant with Roland Berger global strategy consultants. We can expect green stipulations by governments for airline bailouts, and an ever increasing public awareness of sustainable issues.
Hybrid technology could have a real role to play in a sustainable recovery. The impressive BEHA hybrid from Faradair could fly in three to four years, said managing director Neil Cloughley. The BEHA will have a triple box wing design, a 1600hp turboprop engine and 500kw electric motor capable of take off and landing in just 300 meters. Faradair predicts an impressive 1000nm range, the ability to carry 18 passengers or five tonnes of cargo and an impressive ability to convert from cargo to passenger configuration in just 15 minutes. With the right investment, the aircraft could be a real working example of sustainable technology in action.
The Foresight 2020 conference provided some real reasons to feel positive about the future of sustainable aviation. The pioneering spirits of the speakers show real confidence in sustainable aviation despite the current crisis.