Twenty airline members of the World Economic Forum Target True Zero initiative have committed to support the use of innovative technologies to combat climate change. The carriers will adopt new forms of propulsion, such as electric and hydrogen power that come from sustainable energy sources, as well as hybrid aircraft.
The 20 airlines are currently concentrating on short-haul flights, and looking to employ novel propulsion technologies for 30 percent of their aircraft coming into their fleets from 2030 onwards to serve routes of 500 miles or less.
Beyond that, the carriers will decarbonize longer range aircraft “once this becomes technologically and economically viable,” according to a statement from the airlines.
“The adoption of these technologies into the global fleet – through either new aircraft design or the retrofitting of conventional aircraft – can help reduce the climate impact of our operations while preserving the immense economic and social benefits that aviation brings to the world,” the statement read.
Nearly every major airline has committed to net zero goals, implementing a variety of solutions to achieve that end. While many are focusing on sustainable aviation fuels and more efficient conventionally-powered aircraft, there is a growing trend toward alternatively-powered flight such as the technology being explored by the WEF’s initiative.
The Target True Zero initiative was launched in July 2021 to develop understanding about how new propulsion technology can address the climate impacts of aviation, and how the deployment and scaling of such technologies can be accelerated.
The signatory airlines include Aero, Air New Zealand, Air Nostrum, Alaska Airlines, Amelia, ASL Aviation Holdings, Braathens Regional Airlines, Easyjet, Finistair, Icelandair, Iskwew Air, Loganair, Mokulele, Ravn Alaska, Soundsair, Southern Airways Express, Surf Air Mobility, Viva Aerobus, Waltzing Matilda Aviation, and Xwing.
Together, they operate more than 800 aircraft and carry over 177 million passengers on 1.8 million flights per year.
In addition to committing to Target True Zero goals, the airlines are also calling on aerospace manufacturers to prioritize innovation and governments to implement policies to incentivize operators to adopt these technologies and address the infrastructure issues needed to support their use in airports globally.
“The Target True Zero initiative will address the role novel propulsion technologies like electric and hydrogen aviation can play in the transition to an aviation system with true zero climate impacts. It will address issues in the areas of technology, industry dynamics, infrastructure and supply chain, regulation, and public acceptance,” said Timothy Reuter, head of aerospace and drones of the World Economic Forum.
“By accelerating the adoption of solutions with fewer climate impacts, we can ensure equitable growth around the globe while ensuring a healthy planet for future generations,” Reuter added.
“Air New Zealand has an aspiration to put low carbon solutions in place for our shorter domestic and regional flights in the next decade,” commented David Morgan, chief operational integrity and safety officer at Air New Zealand. “
”We know that the journey to decarbonizing the aviation industry is not something that one airline can tackle alone. Initiatives like True Target Zero are vitally important to share information, learnings and accelerate the adoption of zero-emission aircraft around the globe.”