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Biokerosene pp 33-41 | Cite as

Key Drivers and Technical Developments in Aviation

  • Kay Plötner
Chapter

Abstract

The aviation industry has grown strongly over the past decades at a global rate of around 5 %/a. Within the context of this rapid growth, environmental awareness of societies and general actions to mitigate global climate change have led various institutions and stakeholders to formulate and proclaim goals for limiting greenhouse gas emissions of the future global air transport fleet which are a fleet-wide efficiency improvement of 1.5 %/a from the present until 2020, a cap of CO2 emissions from 2020 onwards by market-based measures and a halving of the global fleet’s overall CO2 emission quantities by 2050 relative to 2005 levels. However, despite these substantial efforts to develop new or upgraded aircraft programmes in order to increase fuel efficiency, it is obvious that the target of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards will not be met without market-based measures. In the long term, more radical technologies will be promoted like unconventional aircraft concepts and new engine core concepts. Also alternative energy carriers like electricity, hydrogen, or liquid natural gas are technologies with potential to reduce the environmental footprint, but typically it takes 20 years or more from conceptualisation of a new technology to operational maturity. Today, available technology improvements are outpaced by the strong growth in aviation, while future novel and more radical technologies with large CO2 emission reduction potentials are still at very low technology readiness levels and hence far from industrial implementation. Even in the case of a rapid technology maturation, a fleet-wide penetration would require radical production ramp-ups and an aggressive industrialisation strategy for such novel technologies. To bridge the gap between the fleet-wide introduction of ultra-low emission aircraft technologies and the necessary substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions already today, renewable “drop-in” fuels, offering substantially smaller CO2 footprints compared to conventional jet fuel, are considered a promising way forward.

3.1 Introduction

Over the last 100 years, aviation transformed from an elite mode of transport for niche markets to a mass transportation system serving long-haul as well as medium and short-haul markets worldwide. The aviation industry has grown strongly over the past decades at a global rate of around 5 %/a [1] and more (Fig. 3.1), measured in transport capacity (revenue passenger kilometres, RPK). This impressive growth has been achieved despite various crises such as oil crises, wars, terrorist attacks, or contagious diseases like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). Forecasts for market developments issued by all main aviation stakeholders [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12] predict a further growth in transport capacity by annually 4 to 5 % until 2030 at global average, roughly translating into doubling of transport capacity by 2030 compared to today. Particularly high growth rates, partly surpassing 6 %/a, are expected for emerging countries, for example in the Asia-Pacific region, driven by the transition to middle- or even high-income countries with a growing middle class and the associated changes in travel behaviour [13].
Fig. 3.1

Historical development of transport capacity in revenue passenger kilometres, RPK of commercial aviation from 1950 to 2012 [1]

3.2 Environmental Goals for Aviation

Within the context of this rapid growth, environmental awareness of societies and general actions to mitigate global climate change have led various institutions and stakeholders to formulate and proclaim aspirational, albeit non-binding quantitative goals for limiting greenhouse gas emissions of the future global air transport fleet. Among these institutions are the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) [14], the International Air Transport Association (IATA) [15], the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) [16] and the European Union (EU) [17]. The most prominent and frequently cited targets addressing the emission quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2) at global aircraft fleet level have been published by IATA and ATAG and comprise three major items:
  1. 1.

    fleet-wide efficiency improvement of 1.5 %/a from the present until 2020,

     
  2. 2.

    cap of CO2 emissions from 2020 onwards (“carbon-neutral growth”),

     
  3. 3.

    halving of the global fleet’s overall CO2 emission quantities by 2050 relative to 2005 levels.

     
At aircraft level, the EU envisages a reduction of CO2 emissions by 75 % compared to typical aircraft in service in the reference year 2000 in its long-term research agenda [17]. The EU targets are considered as being on an equal footing with those announced by ICAO [14], IATA [15], and the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) [18], levelling the long-term research goals for aircraft technologies. Technology goals for CO2 emissions, as originally defined in Vision 2020 [19] and AGAPE 2020 [20], were categorised into airframe, propulsion and other areas like air traffic management (ATM) and airline operations. Up to the year 2035, a 60 % reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions per RPK is aimed, and a 75 % reduction in CO2 emissions is set as a target for the year 2050, relative to technology standards of the reference year 2000 (Tab. 3.1).
Tab. 3.1

European medium- to long-term efficiency goals for aviation [21]

Goals and keycontributions

2000 (Reference)

2020 (Vision)

2020 (AGAPE)

2020 (SRIA)

2035 (SRIA)

2050 (SRIA)

CO 2 objective vs 2000 (“HLG”)

-50%**

-75%**

CO 2 vs 2000 (kg/pass km)*

-50%

-38%

-43%

-60%

-75%

Airframe energy need (Efficiency)

1

0,75

0,85

0,8

0,7

0,32

Propulsion & power energy need (Efficiency)

1

0,8

0,8

0,8

0,7

ATM and Infrastructure

1

0,88

0,95

0,93

0,88

0,88

Non Infrastructure-related Airlines Ops

1

0,96

0,96

0,96

0,93

0,88

* comparsion with same transport capability aircraft and on a same mission in term on range and payload

** ACARE 2020 and ACARE 2050 High Level Goals for a airframe, engine, systems and ATM/Operations

3.3 Technical Developments in Aviation

Besides these long-term research goals to reduce the environmental footprint at aircraft level, aircraft manufacturers are continuously updating their current product portfolio by completely new aircraft programmes and/or performance improvement packages for existing product lines. Over the last 10 to 15 years, a strong focus, and hence competition, was set on new long-haul aircraft programmes like Airbus A380, Boeing 747-8, Boeing 787, and Airbus A350, which entered the markets in 2005, 2011 and 2014, respectively. A block fuel reduction of the Boeing 787 compared to its predecessor – the Boeing 767 – of around 20 % was achieved [22]. For the Airbus A350, a 25 % block fuel reduction compared to the current Boeing 777 family is claimed [23]. Besides new aircraft programmes, both Airbus and Boeing will also improve their existing A330 and 777 programmes by more efficient wing designs and incorporating latest available engine technologies, resulting in the Airbus A330neo (new engine option) and Boeing 777-8/9 families, achieving block fuel reductions between 13 and 20 % (Fig. 3.2).
Fig. 3.2

Next-generation aircraft types and associated gains in fuel efficiency [33] (grey values: no official programme launch until mid-year 2016, values estimated)

For the short-haul markets, the availability of the Geared Turbofan engine technology, offering promising fuel burn reductions of around 15 % [24], led to several launches of new programmes like Bombardier C-Series or existing aircraft programmes like Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families being updated by the latest engine technology.

However, despite these substantial efforts to develop new or upgraded aircraft programmes in order to increase fuel efficiency, it is obvious that the target of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards will not be met (Fig. 3.3). Today, more than 14,000 single-aisle aircraft are operating, and a growth to over 30,000 aircraft within the next 20 years is forecasted [25]. Even at current highest production rates of around 120 aircraft per month for Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 single-aisle aircraft families, the rate of market penetration of new and more efficient aircraft is not sufficient with respect to the ambitious emission reduction targets.
Fig. 3.3

Global fleet-size and fuel-burn development scenarios for the lowest fuel efficiency improvement rates (BAD scenario), mean rates (BASIC scenario), and highest rates (BEST scenario) up to the year 2025, including the zero-improvement path, and the SRIA (Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda) and ATAG targets [33]

In the long term, more radical technologies will be promoted like novel aircraft concepts [26] together with future engine configurations and architectures offering significant additional fuel burn reduction potentials. Future aircraft configurations target a higher aerodynamic efficiency like strut-braced wing or hybrid-wing-body or a stronger interaction between engine and airframe like the propulsive fuselage concept or blended-wing-body with distributed, semi-embedded engines. For further increase of engine efficiency, industry and research is working on new engine core concepts, including novel engine cycles.

Also alternative energy carriers like electricity [27, 28], hydrogen [29], or liquid natural gas [30] are technologies with potential to reduce the environmental footprint, but typically it takes 20 years or more from conceptualisation of a new technology to operational maturity [31]. Especially for hybrid- to fully electric aircraft (Fig. 3.4) concepts with an inflight CO2 emission reduction potential of up to 100 %, the aviation industry envisages an entry into service in the year 2030 [32] for hybrid-electric regional aircraft. By contrast, larger aircraft using a substantial share of electric energy for propulsion represent long-term options and will probably not enter the market before 2050.
Fig. 3.4

Conceptual design study of a full electric aircraft [27]

3.4 Final Considerations

Today, available technology improvements are outpaced by the strong growth in aviation, while future novel and more radical technologies with large CO2 emission reduction potentials are still at very low technology readiness levels and hence far from industrial implementation. Even in the case of a rapid technology maturation, a fleet-wide penetration would require radical production ramp-ups and an aggressive industrialisation strategy for such novel technologies. To bridge the gap between the fleet-wide introduction of ultra-low emission aircraft technologies and the necessary substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions already today, renewable “drop-in” fuels, offering substantially smaller CO2 footprints compared to conventional jet fuel, are considered a promising way forward. Consequently, renewable aviation fuels represent a rapidly growing and diversifying field of research and development, bringing together stakeholders from academia, fuel production and fuel supply as well as the aviation industry.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bauhaus LuftfahrtTaufkirchen (bei München)Germany

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