Regulators need to understand realities, complexities of achieving ecoAviation goals

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By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 5, 2022, © Leeham News: Battery power. Hybrid-battery. Hydrogen. Hydrogen-hybrid. Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

Boeing's 777 ecoDemonstrator. Boeing launched the ecoD program 10 years ago. Credit: Boeing.

Whatever the path chosen by the hundreds of companies seeking greener commercial aviation, government regulations and tax breaks are going to be a part of the solutions.

The airline industry has a goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. There are milestone targets between now and then. But will governments fully understand what’s technologically achievable in considering regulations or tax breaks? Will they fully understand which options are the best environmental solution?

Boeing developed an analytical tool called Cascade to help governments and regulators understand these issues. Importantly, Cascade takes into account the total life cycle factors for environmentally-friendly options.

The model analyzes carbon emissions for airplane fleet renewal, renewable energy sources such as sustainable fuel, hydrogen, electric propulsion, operational efficiency improvements, and advanced technologies. At the moment, Cascade remains in Beta testing internally. LNA has not had the opportunity to play with it.

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“We've got to be honest about where we are on the life cycle emissions,” says Chris Raymond, the chief sustainability officer for The Boeing Co. “We've got to have a way to take that into account. We were just trying to start to illustrate to people that the energy generation upstream of whatever's going to power the airplane is all part of the calculus that we have to think about. That's really why we invented Cascade.”

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