New study by ICCT show new plane fuel efficiency gains are more than a decade late for UN ICAO goal

The European group, T&E, say that since 2010, the average fuel burn of new aircraft has improved by 1.1% per year, which suggests that aircraft manufacturers may miss UN aviation body ICAO’s 2020 fuel efficiency goals by 12 years. This has been show by a new study by the ICCT. IATA forecasts 4.1% annual growth of global aviation for the next 20 years. By contrast, the 1.1% progress in fuel efficiency of new commercial jets falls way behind the progress needed to meet ICAO’s targets. The gap between 4.1% growth and 1.1% improvement is massive. Since 2009 ICAO has been working on a CO2 standard for new aircraft to boost fuel efficiency technology in the fleet. Work should be completed in 2016, with the standard for new commercial jets taking effect in 2020. Decisions on the actual stringency of the standard are due over the next months. T&E said: “ICAO must help airlines meet their own climate goals and agree a COstandard that actually forces new technology in the fleet, rather than doing business as usual….. It’s a no brainer for ICAO to agree a global market-based measure that drives fuel prices up steadily over time.”  More progress in fuel efficiency strongly correlates with higher fuel prices. Aviation’s massive CO2 emissions are projected to triple by 2050.
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New plane fuel efficiency gains are more than a decade late for UN goal – study

Since 2010, the average fuel burn of new aircraft has improved by 1.1% per year, which suggests that aircraft manufacturers may miss UN aviation body ICAO’s 2020 fuel efficiency goals by 12 years, a new study by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) reveals.

As air traffic soars (industry trade body IATA forecasts a 4.1% annual growth for the next 20 years), this 1% progress in new commercial jet fuel efficiency falls way behind the technology advances needed to meet ICAO’s own targets, Transport & Environment commented.

Since 2009 (and after rejecting the idea in 2001) ICAO has been working on a CO2 standard for new aircraft to boost fuel efficiency technology in the fleet. Work should be completed in 2016, three years later than planned, with the standard for new commercial jets taking effect in 2020. Decisions on the actual stringency of the standard are due over the next months.

Andrew Murphy, sustainable aviation officer at T&E, said: “When demand for your service grows four times quicker than the fuel efficiency of new planes, you clearly have a CO2 emissions gap. This study confirms the open secret that planemakers are not delivering the efficient airplanes needed to meet UN goals. ICAO must help airlines meet their own climate goals and agree a CO2standard that actually forces new technology in the fleet, rather than doing business as usual.”

The rate of fuel efficiency gains varied significantly over time: average fuel burn improved by 2.6% per year during the 80s, while no progress was seen during the 1970s and in the period from 1995 to 2005. As shown in the graph below, progress in fuel efficiency strongly correlates with fuel prices. That is, spikes in kerosene prices (like in early 80s and after 2004) have seen corresponding improvements in fuel efficiency of new jet planes.

Fuel efficiency improvement of planes to 2014

History has shown again and again that fuel efficiency in transport is highly linked to fuel costs. Air travel is no different. It’s a no brainer for ICAO to agree a global market-based measure that drives fuel prices up steadily over time,” Andrew Murphy added.

With new aircraft having a lifespan of 20-30 years, falling efficiency returns could lock in unnecessary fossil fuel consumption for decades to come, greatly undermining global efforts to decarbonise and limit a temperature increase to under 2 degrees,” Andrew Murphy concluded.

If considered as a country, global aviation would have ranked seventh in terms of CO2 emissions in 2012, just after Germany. These already massive CO2 emissions rise every year and are projected to triple by 2050.

http://www.transportenvironment.org/press/new-plane-fuel-efficiency-gains-are-more-decade-late-un-goal-%E2%80%93-study

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A new paper for the ICCT analyzes the fuel efficiency/carbon intensity of new commercial aircraft, and indicates the substantial gap existing between what is technological feasible and new aircraft currently on the market.

Fuel efficiency trends for new commercial jet aircraft: 1960 to 2014 (PDF, 54.82KB)

3.9.2015 (ICCT – International Council on Clean Transportation)

This report updates a 2009 study that analyzed the sales- and activity-weighted fuel efficiency improvement of commercial jet aircraft from 1960 to 2008. It improves on that work in several significant ways, updating with new aircraft types and data for 2009 to 2014 deliveries and using refined metrics for measurement, including the efficiency metric value that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has developed for its international CO2 standard.

Key findings:

  • Between 1968 and 2014 the average fuel burn of new aircraft fell approximately 45%, or a compound annual reduction rate of 1.3%.
  • The rate of efficiency improvement varied significantly over time: average fuel efficiency improved by 2.6% per year during 1980s, while little or no improvement was seen during the 1970s and in the period from 1995 to 2005.
  • Today, the rate of efficiency improvement for new aircraft has returned back to the historical average. This trend, probably attributable to the spike in fuel prices after 2004, is likely to continue for the near term as more new aircraft types are brought to market.
  • Despite this progress, manufacturers continue to lag United Nations’ fuel efficiency goals for new aircraft. On average, industry is about 12 years behind the 2020 and 2030 fuel efficiency goals established by ICAO, the UN agency that overseas international aviation.
  • Continued oil market volatility, combined with evidence that the industry is lagging its technological potential, highlights the need for a meaningful CO2 standard to help industry meet its environmental goals.
ICCT chart of aircraft fuel efficiency improvements to 2014
STA means “small twin aisle” (ie. wide-bodied aircraft with more than 7 seats abreast, like ? Boeing 787 and Airbus A350,) and SA means “single aisle” (ie. seating 6 abreast, smaller planes referred to as regional jets, not making long inter-continental trips).
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The paper says (Page iv):
“Reductions in average aircraft fuel burn slowed noticeably after 1990 and largely halted around 2000. After 2010, average fuel efficiency began to accelerate on both metrics and has now returned to the long-term average improvement of 1.1% per annum on a fuel/ passenger-km basis. Acceleration in improvement rate is expected in the foreseeable future due to the introduction of new, more efficient aircraft designs such as the A320neo, 737 MAX, and 777X. Over the long term, fuel efficiency improvements on the fuel/passenger-km and ICAO’s cruise fuel metric were found to be comparable.”
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The paper’s conclusion:
“4. Conclusions and Next Steps
This work reconfirms the 2009 study’s conclusion that a meaningful CO2 standard is needed to provide an extra incentive for new technology development and deployment. Despite faster fuel efficiency improvements linked to new aircraft types and higher fuel prices, manufacturers remain 12 years behind ICAO’s technology goals. It is also worth noting that, albeit at a slow pace, new aircraft fuel efficiency keeps improving by the year. Any CO2 emission standard should, therefore, ensure additional emission reductions by taking into account the baseline level of industry improvement in order to avoid setting a standard that would be overtaken by “natural” improvement.
“As discussed in the previous section, ICAO’s CO2 emission standard, while rewarding technologies that reduce fuel burn, does not reward structural efficiency as evident from a comparison of ICAO’s cruise metric value and the fuel/passenger-km metrics used to measure CO2 reduction. Even if the adopted standard is stringent enough to incrementally improve fuel efficiency beyond business-as-usual, a supporting measure may be needed to promote structural efficiency, including the use of lightweight materials and efficient aircraft design. Differentiated landing fees based on the fuel efficiency of in-service aircraft is one potential incentive.
“Looking forward, further work is needed to comprehensively investigate the degree of correlation between the modeled average fuel burn on the block fuel per passenger-km and ICAO cruise metrics. An expansion of the study to include general aviation aircraft, notably turboprops and business jets, could broaden our understanding of overall industry fuel efficiency trends. A future update will also be necessary to reflect changes linked to project aircraft due to enter into service between 2016 and 2020 — before the earliest application date of ICAO’s CO2 standard. The update will also be useful in reassessing industry’s progress toward ICAO’s fuel burn technology goals.”
http://www.theicct.org/fuel-efficiency-trends-new-commercial-jet-aircraft-1960-2014
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The ICCT (International Council on Clean Transportation) says it is:
“.. an independent non-profit organization founded to provide first-rate, unbiased research and technical and scientific analysis to environmental regulators. Our mission is to improve the environmental performance and energy efficiency of road, marine, and air transportation, in order to benefit public health and mitigate climate change.”
More details at http://www.theicct.org/about-icct
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See earlier:

Overall fuel efficiency of US airlines fails to improve on domestic routes during 2013, finds ICCT study

An annual performance study by the ICCT shows the fuel efficiency of US carriers on domestic routes failed to improve in 2013.  ICCT found little correlation between airline efficiency and profitability, and is concerned that as fuel prices steady or even fall there will even less incentive to make fuel efficiency gains.  Even less efficient carriers were also able to make  high profits through using older, less fuel efficient aircraft.   ICCT’s analysis shows the average annual fuel efficiency between 1990 and 2000 improved by 2.1%, improving to 2.8% between 2000 and 2010 and then fell back to 1.3% between 2010 and 2012.  Load factors rose from 60% in 1990 to 82% in 2010, but have flattened out in recent years.  The US aircraft fleet is ageing, with fewer new planes. The price of oil has fallen markedly in the past year, and may remain low for some time, due to US oil production. There is concern there will be less incentive, with cheaper fuel, to make energy savings. Or meet the IATA goal of 1.5% energy improvements annually to 2020.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/11/overall-fuel-efficiency-of-us-airlines-fails-to-improve-on-domestic-routes-during-2013-finds-icct-study/

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Southampton University study shows air traffic growth would outpace CO2 reduction efforts unless demand is cut by higher air fares

Edit this entry.

Experts warn that cheap air travel needs to end if the air industry is to honour its pledges to reduce its carbon footprint. Airfares will need to increase by a third over the next 30 years if airlines are to cut their passenger numbers,in order to hit their ‘carbon neutral’ targets. A study (by John Preston, Matt Grote and Ian Williams, at the Dept of Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton) shows the airline industry will have to raise fares in order to limit demand for air travel, which otherwise rises continuously.  The study says air ticket prices need to increase by at least 1.4% per year, even if the airlines invest in more efficient aircraft and manage to introduce lower-carbon fuels. Air fares have become 1.3 % cheaper every year, on average, since 1979. The researchers say the average fare paid by passengers would need to rise (at 2013 prices) from £170 in 2013, to £195 in 2023, to £225 in 2033, and to £258 by 2043. The growth in demand for flights will outpace fuel efficiency improvements if the annual increase in air passengers worldwide is around 4 – 5% per year.  Though IATA hopes to improve aircraft fuel efficiency by 1.5% per year up to 2020, it realises the higher growth in passenger numbers is causing a net increase in aviation carbon emissions.

Paper is at University of Southampton Aircraft emissions paper – June 2014

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2014/08/southampton-university-study-shows-air-traffic-growth-would-outpace-co2-reduction-efforts-unless-demand-is-cut-by-higher-air-fares/

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UK aviation industry presents its (unrealistic) Road-Map for growing while cutting carbon by 2050

An aviation industry body calling itself The Sustainable Aviation Group has updated its 2008 Road-Map on how it hopes to continue growing as much as possible, and yet also magically keep its carbon emissions down. There are many assumptions about the extent of  fuel efficiency from new planes and new engines; from better operational practices such as better air traffic control.  And a huge hope that biofuels will be the salvation and provide immense carbon savings.  In addition, they will depend to a huge extent on carbon trading with other sectors, so at least a quarter of their emissions will have to be compensated for by other sectors. And for all this they want a lot of government subsidy and assistance – which means money from the tax payer.

http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2012/03/sustainable-aviation/

Link:

Sustainable Aviation

The 2012 Road-Map is at  http://www.sustainableaviation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/SA-CO2-Road-Map-full-report-280212.pdf

The 2008 Road-Map is at  http://www.nats.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/sa-road-map-final-dec-08.pdf

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