Measuring the Long-term Sustainability of Air Transport ? an Assessment of the Global Airline Fleet and Its CO2 Emissions Up to the Year 2050

Measuring the Long-term Sustainability of Air Transport ? an Assessment of the Global Airline Fleet and Its CO2 Emissions Up to the Year 2050


W Grimme, German Aerospace Center (DLR), DE


The paper develops a methodology for estimating future emissions from passenger air transport up to the year 2050 under different assumptions concerning the technical efficiency of new aircraft types and their market penetration.


"The Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE), which is a cooperation of research establishments, manufacturers, airports, airlines and Member States of the European Union, has published in its Strategic Research Agenda 2 (SRA2) objectives for the improvement of the future air transport system in Europe. In the research agenda environmental objectives play a prominent role. The targets laid out by ACARE include a 50 per cent reduction in specific fuel consumption for aircraft coming into service after the year 2020. As aircraft, components and parts developed and manufactured in Europe are marketed globally, this target will have impacts for the use of increasingly scarce oil-resources not only in Europe, but world-wide. However, the decisive parameter for the development of total fuel consumption and emissions of air transport and ultimately climate change impacts of aviation is not the technical efficiency of a single aircraft, but the speed of diffusion of state-of-the-art technology into the world fleet. As the world fleet consists already today of more than 15,000 aircraft with more than 70 seats and as aircraft are typically in use for more than 20 years, it is rather time-consuming until the effects of new technology can be widely sensed. The paper develops a methodology for an estimation of the composition of the world?s civil passenger aircraft fleet for the timeframe up to the 2050, based on traffic forecasts of Airbus, Boeing and the research project CONSAVE 2050. Fuel consumption and CO2-emissions will be calculated based on fleet and block hour statistics obtained from the aviation information provider ASCEND for a timeframe from 1995 to 2005 and the Base of Aircraft Data (BADA), provided by EUROCONTROL. Emissions for the timeframe from 2006 to 2050 will be forecasted, including different scenarios concerning the assumed technical efficiency of future aircraft types. Finally, the paper concludes with a quantification of the CO2-emissions that can be avoided due to new aircraft technology and a comparison of the costs of research and development in the aeronautical industry and the welfare effects of an avoidance of CO2-emissions from air transport.

The main advantage of the selected approach is the reduced data requirement compared to traditional emissions inventories, while it provides a reliable overview on the long-term effects of the application of break-through technologies in air transport. Furthermore, it provides some interesting insights into the distribution of fuel consumed among the fleets of different aircraft types.

The first results of the application of the presented methodology have shown that fuel consumed for commercial aviation will likely increase by between 137 and 273 per cent in 2050 compared to the base year 2000, depending on the assumptions about technical efficiency of new aircraft subsequently entering the fleet. At the same time, traffic is perceived to increase five-fold. With additional measures, such as efficiency increases by airlines, airports and air traffic control, the increase in fuel consumption could be reduced to 98 per cent."


Association for European Transport