Can airlines internally rapidly reduce CO2 and delays?

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 By Michael Baiada

Special to Leeham News

Michael Baiada

July 31, 2023, © Leeham News: Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), battery- or hydrogen-powered airplanes, eVTOLS and Advanced Air Mobility vehicles get all the headlines when it comes to reducing emissions in commercial aviation.

One area that doesn’t get much in the way of headlines is improvement in the “day of” airline operation. Improvements in ATC or ATM receives most of the attention. But a “single” sky in Europe and “free flight” or “NextGen” Air Traffic Management (ATM) in the USA on the Air Traffic Control (ATC) side remain hypotheticals, largely because of funding and political issues, not to mention that airline delays, congestion and excess CO2 are not an ATC problem.

On the airline side, Alaska Airlines experimented with a software planning program called Airspace Intelligence that saved 2.7 minutes per flight. This doesn’t sound like much, and in the scheme of things, it isn’t. But this amounted to the equivalent of 17m miles driven by cars during the experiment.

But just how well are efforts working around the world that are currently underway to increase airspace and airport efficiency and reduce airline delays, congestion, cancellations, and excess CO2?

For the last four decades airlines and ATC have literally spent hundreds of billions of dollars on new equipment, new aircraft and new technologies. Yet little has changed. Airline delays, congestion, cancellations and excess CO2 happen over and over again.

Of course, the obvious question is Why - Why can’t the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other authorities solve this problem?

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