Researchers suggest airlines could halve emissions by 2050 by making cost-effective adjustments

plane
Boeing 737-700 jet airliner. Credit: Wikipedia/Arcturu

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers from University College London, the University of California, and MIT, is suggesting that U.S. airlines could cut their emissions in half over the next thirty five years by making changes that would actually save them money. In their paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the team describes their research and the changes they believe could be made and the reductions and savings that could result if the major airlines would take their advice.

To better understand what could do to reduce (which amount to approximately 2 to 3 percent of the global total) the researchers looked at information from airline industry sources, papers written by academics and other studies that have been done on the topic. They found that concentrating on narrow-body aircraft made the most sense as they accounted for nearly 75 percent of gas usage. After analyzing all the information, they came up with 14 things airlines could do to cut emissions.

One of the ideas was to keep planes at the gate until their turn comes to take off instead of making them idle on the runway, others included using fewer engines when taxiing or better yet, electric motors, cleaning engines more often, or reducing weight by lowering the amounts of contingency fuel used, or replacing seats with those made from lighter materials. They also suggest flying with more passengers, retiring older planes, replacing brakes with those made from lighter materials and adding blended winglets (those little upturns on the ends of wings). Other ways to reduce emissions could include making changes in the air, such as updating flight paths so that planes could fly more direct routes and adjusting altitude and speed to avoid turbulence that causes drag. There is also the possibly of switching to synthetic fuels if it becomes feasible.

The researchers note that their ideas are based on the current price of jet fuel, if prices rise, airlines could benefit more by making changes, whereas they may be stifled by dropping prices. They also acknowledge that many airlines are already making some of the changes they have suggested, which bodes well for passengers, because it could mean shorter flights, less waiting on the ground, and perhaps even lower ticket prices.


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More information: Andreas W. Schäfer, Antony D. Evans, Tom G. Reynolds & Lynnette Dray, Costs of mitigating CO2 emissions from passenger aircraft, Nature Climate Change, nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/nclimate2865
Journal information: Nature Climate Change

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Nov 24, 2015
Why?

I'll consider being concerned about the climate when private jets are banned.

Nov 24, 2015
What a dopey study! Akin to the one that said we shouldn't allow people who have eaten peanuts on airplanes, because most people who die in crashes have eaten peanuts.

Somehow I was expecting better.

I have an idea. How about while taxiing we let everybody get out and push!

Nov 24, 2015
Mr Ed thinks saving energy is "dopey"?

Nov 24, 2015
Mr Ed thinks saving energy is "dopey"?


No, he thinks that airlines are constantly working to reduce their costs, by fleet modernization, right sizing aircraft for routes, minimizing ground loiter, and so on. You may have noticed a trend toward starting engines after pushback. Older generation planes required a power cart to start the engines, and it was easier to start the engines at the gate. Today, aircraft have sufficient on-board battery power to start the engines, so why waste fuel.

What makes this post so silly, is thinking that the "evil airline corporations" want to waste fuel. They want to make a profit, and every galleon of fuel saved goes right to the bottom line. I could argue that certain FAA regulations require carrying an unnecessary amount of extra fuel--in very restricted circumstances: no winter weather, plenty of intermediate airfields available, etc. But the current rules are pretty safe and effective, so if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Nov 24, 2015
"What makes this post so silly, is thinking that the "evil airline corporations" want to waste fuel."
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Ridiculous. Where does it say that?

Nov 24, 2015
What really makes this post silly is their advice, which looks like they know nothing about rhe industry. Each one of their ideas are already used as far as possible, within laws, regulations, safety, and profit. And the ones not yet implemented, are known not to be efficient.

For example, taxiing on electric power needs electric motors, but their weight will cause more fuel to get wasted during the flight than they save on the ground. If I were the Dean, I'd be embarrased.

Nov 25, 2015
They want to make a profit, and every galleon of fuel saved goes right to the bottom line.

I think if the subsidies on airplane fuel were to be dropped all ofthe mentioned changes would happen pretty fast. (Subsidies for airplane fuel in the EU are to the tune of 40bn a year. I guess this is no different in other areas of the world)

Nov 26, 2015
Why?

I'll consider being concerned about the climate when private jets are banned.


Especially those used by AGW proselytizing wealthy entertainers, former politicians who've made a couple hundred million off "climate change" and bureaucrats who fly to exotic locations for confabs about how to squeeze trillions more from people who actually produce things that other people want.

And I'll get serious about apocalyptic warming when those making fortunes off it start acting like they're concerned too.

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