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#Sustainability20: Archer’s Midnight eVTOL Prototype Takes Flight & More
Weekly Roundup - 27/10/23
Each Friday, we publish a round-up of the 20 most important stories on sustainable aviation. You can see previous editions of #Sustainability20 here.
JetBlue has requested the U.S. Department of Transportation to ban KLM from New York's JFK Airport due to proposed flight caps at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport. The Dutch government's decision to reduce flights is contested by KLM and industry groups. JetBlue previously filed a complaint against the Netherlands and the EU.
West Antarctica’s ice shelves are melting from below due to increasing warm water volumes. Despite efforts to curb global warming, accelerated melting is inevitable, potentially causing unavoidable sea level rises. British researchers suggest urgent greenhouse gas emission reductions to prevent further damage.
Infrastructure and operational efficiencies
EasyJet has installed Airbus’ fuel-saving tech across its fleet, reducing carbon emissions and fuel costs. This move allows for efficient descents, noise reduction, and saves 88,600 metric tonnes of CO2 annually. It supports easyJet's net-zero target.
Thai Airways introduced sustainable cabin crew uniforms made from recycled material and Thai silk. The move is part of their "From Purple to Purpose" initiative towards net zero emissions by 2050. Multiple airlines are adopting eco-friendly practices.
Airbus plans to renew its chartered sea fleet with low-emission ships using wind propulsion to cut transatlantic carbon emissions by over 50% by 2030. The ships will feature Flettner rotors and dual-fuel engines, launching in 2026.
London Gatwick has achieved the highest Airport Carbon Accreditation (ACA) Level 4+ Transition certification for offsetting carbon emissions. The airport has been carbon neutral since 2017 and aims for net zero by 2030.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)
Lufthansa, alongside partners including Airbus and Munich Airport, will research Power-to-Liquid (PtL) aviation fuels. This next-generation SAF, produced using regenerative electricity, water, and CO2, may significantly reduce emissions. The collaboration aims to advance PtL technology in Germany.
Delta Air Lines has partnered with Minneapolis Saint Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership (GREATER MSP) for large-scale SAF production in Minnesota. Aiming to provide 250 million gallons by 2030, the initiative involves multiple partners and focuses on decarbonisation and economic growth.
Boeing's ecoDemonstrator program, partnering with GE Aerospace, NASA, and United Airlines, tests how 100% SAF impacts contrail characteristics. SAF can reduce carbon emissions by up to 85%. Increased collaboration seeks to advance SAF production and use for sustainable aerospace.
Ensyn, Linde Corp, and LanzaTech have allied to produce SAF and other products from cellulosic biomass, mainly wood. Their combined technologies transform solid wood into SAF, renewable diesel, and other goods, highlighting the potential for significant reductions in SAF costs.
Egypt is considering partnering with US firm Honeywell to build a SAF plant in Alexandria. The project, producing 120,000 tonnes annually, aligns with Honeywell's $200 million investment plans in Egypt.
Ireland's offshore wind projects may enable SAF production by 2030. A study by SkyNRG and SFS Ireland highlighted the potential of e-fuels using green hydrogen and captured carbon. However, policy incentives, investments, and development are essential.
New technology: Electric and Hydrogen
US eVTOL maker, Archer Aviation, test flew its Midnight aircraft, marking a key step towards FAA certification in 2024. Targeting commercialisation by 2025, Midnight can fly 100 miles at 150mph, with fast charging.
Wisk Aero, a Boeing subsidiary, showcased its autonomous eVTOL air taxi, Cora, in Los Angeles, marking the industry's first public demo in the city. Wisk, targeting a commercial launch by 2030, emphasises the growing interest in eVTOLs for Los Angeles' congested environment. LA aims for extensive air mobility services by the 2028 Olympics.
JBT AeroTech and Universal Hydrogen are co-developing the H2AmpCart, a hydrogen fuel cell-powered battery charger for airport ground support equipment. Aiming to address electrification challenges at airports, the product will be demonstrated by year-end and launched by 2024, utilising Ballard’s FCmove-HD+ hydrogen fuel cell.
eHang's EH 216, an autonomous eVTOL air taxi, received full certification in China, marking a global first for eVTOLs. The two-seater taxi can travel 30 km at 130 km/h. While Western aviation authorities anticipate certification by 2025, China's accelerated approval may offer it a competitive edge, despite potential safety concerns. eHang has already completed 10,000 demonstration flights.
After gaining FAA approval, Archer Aviation has partnered with the UAE for its all-electric air taxi services. They've signed an MOU with the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, targeting commercial operations by 2026. Archer's eVTOL aircraft, "Midnight", will offer short flights, transforming lengthy car journeys.
Swedish eVTOL developer, Jetson, secured certification for uncontrolled airspace flights in Italy after a $15m seed round. The first ultra-light aircraft manufacturer-approved, Jetson's ONE vehicles could soon fly in Italy.
Germany's Lilium plans to sell its eVTOL aircraft in the US, targeting the premium private jet market at $10 million each, partnering with Texas-based EMC Jet. Lilium's eVTOL offers a sustainable, short-range alternative to helicopters.
Eviation Aircraft secured an order from Germany's flyVbird for 25 all-electric Alice planes, with an option for 25 more. Aimed for sustainable European travel, Alice offers low-cost, zero-carbon regional flights.
Massachusetts unveiled its first electric aircraft charging station at Marshfield Municipal Airport. The first plane charged was BETA Technologies' ALIA. BETA recently opened a large production facility in Vermont.
Two decades after shelving, the Jetcruzer is being revived by Victor Tao of Farrar Aerospace. Displayed at NBAA-BACE 2023, its first flight might occur this year. The company plans a hydrogen-powered/electric version by 2025.
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