Boeing 747 model aircraft (Photo: Boeing / Handout)
A series of agreements signed in recent months focused on the development of biofuels for aviation confirm an irreversible trend in that industry, which has increasingly looked at alternative solutions to cut its carbon dioxide emissions (CO2), according to the Emissions and Technology Consultant at the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), Alfred Szwarc. The industry, he adds, is a major carbon emitter in a global context where measures to tackle the problem are a priority, so it makes sense for aircraft manufacturers to pursue biofuels.
“A recent meeting between Brazilian President Dilma Roussef and U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington D.C on April 4th showcased the importance of this trend. They signed a Memorandum of Understanding on civil aviation to boost partnerships, investment and discussions in areas of regulation, environment and air navigation. All of this is, of course, of paramount importance to the Brazilian sugarcane industry,” said Szwarc.
In early April, Embraer and Boeing signed an agreement to work together on improved aircraft safety, operational efficiency and manufacturing productivity. In 2011, the two companies had already announced plans to jointly fund research toward the production of sustainable aviation jet fuel from sugarcane.
"Embraer has a clear commitment to innovation as well as aviation safety and efficiency,” said the company’s CEO, Frederico Curado commenting on the cooperation agreement with Boeing: "I’m certain that collaboration with Boeing in leading-edge matters will be beneficial for the industry while strengthening ties between Brazil and the United States in the process."
In October of 2011, Boeing, Embraer and the São Paulo State Research Foundation (FAPESP) announced plans to collaborate on long-term aviation biofuels-related research and development. Brazilian airlines Azul, GOL, TAM and Trip will be involved as strategic advisors in the program.
Airbus, Boeing and Embraer
Another recent cooperation agreement, this time involving Airbus, Boeing and Embraer, was announced March 22nd in Paris. The top three aircraft manufacturers in the world pledged to work together to develop affordable aviation biofuels with performance similar to fuels made from fossil sources. So called drop-in fuels have the same properties as conventional fuels, eliminating the need for additional blending and storage infrastructure as well as engine and turbines modifications.
The president and CEO of Airbus, Tom Enders, pointed out at the time that a lot has been achieved in the last ten years in terms of reducing the CO2 footprint of the aviation sector: traffic has grown 45% with only a three percent increase in fuel consumption he said.
“The production and use of sustainable quantities of aviation biofuels is key to meeting our industry’s ambitious CO2 reduction targets and we are helping to do this through research and technology, plus our expanding network of worldwide value chains and our support for the EU Commission and its 4% target for biofuel use in aviation by 2020,” he concluded.