Alliance looks to map flightpath to emission-free aviation

The European Commission has launched a new alliance to prepare the way for zero emissions aircraft.

The Alliance for Zero Emission Aviation aims to prepare the aviation ecosystem for the entry into service of hydrogen- and electric-powered aircraft, to ensure that air transport contributes to Europe’s 2050 climate neutrality objective.

Under the plans it will become the home for representatives of aircraft manufacturers, airlines, airports, energy companies and fuel providers, standardisation and certification agencies, passenger and environmental interest groups and regulators, to create the pathway to emission free aviation.

EU commissioner for internal market, Thierry Breton, said: “Europe’s aeronautics industry is the most innovative in the world. And its enthusiasm – from large manufacturers to equipment suppliers and small companies and start-ups – to lead the way to hydrogen and electric propulsion aircraft is really encouraging. But the entire aviation ecosystem, including fuel suppliers, airport operators and regulators, also needs to get ready. The Alliance for Zero Emission Aviation will help coordinate efforts by companies and organisations to maintain a competitive and sustainable aviation sector.”

Under the alliance members will jointly work to identify all barriers to the entry into commercial service of these aircraft, establish recommendations and a roadmap to address them, promote investment projects and create synergies and momentum amongst members. In particular, the members will look at issues such as the fuel and infrastructure requirements of hydrogen and electric aircraft at airports, standardisation and certification, and the implications for operators (airlines) and air traffic management.

“Over the next two decades, more than 44,000 new aircraft are expected to be placed on the market,” said ANZEA. “The potential market volume for zero emission aircraft has been estimated at 26,000 by 2050, with a total value of €5 trillion.

“The Alliance will eventually deliver on the commitment to align the sector with the EU’s climate ambition, goals and other related policies. The international dimension of the sector is also a major element, as tackling climate change is a global effort.”

The Commission’s executive vice-president for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, added: “With the advent of zero emission aircraft Europe is writing the next chapter in aviation. Climate-neutrality is the passport for growth, and the Alliance for Zero Emission Aviation will help the European aeronautical industry to pave the way for a competitive and clean aviation.”

The European aeronautics industry together with other European players in the aviation sector made the commitment to ensure that air transport in Europe meets Europe’s 2050 climate objectives. The Commission said it is supporting this objective through concrete action such as the Clean Aviation Programme under Horizon Europe, carbon-pricing mechanisms (e.g. EU ETS) and the Innovation Fund.

“These initiatives support the development of zero emission aircraft based on novel propulsion technologies (e.g. electric, hydrogen),” added the commission. “Such environmentally sustainable aircraft have huge market potential and may strongly contribute to industry’s future competitiveness in all market segments.”

It added: “Zero emission propulsion technologies are key to mitigating aviation’s CO2 emissions, corresponding to at least 3% of global warming. This does not include, the impact of non-CO2 emissions, which are responsible for two thirds of the sector’s climate impact.

“The introduction of hydrogen and battery-electric propulsion will entail major changes to the air transport system. These technologies will not only lead to a new generation of aircraft but also require major changes to airport infrastructures, airlines, air traffic management and energy networks.”