Forecast 2022: Sustainability

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By Bjorn Fehrm


February 7, 2022, © Leeham News: The year that passed was when Sustainability broke through the walls of “I’m not convinced we have a problem” and “If so, what shall we do about it.”

The declarations ahead of, at, and after COP26 in Glasgow, United Nations 26’th climate conference, had many major states and organizations commit to targets for the reduction of Greenhouse gases by 2030 and 2050.

With this change in mind and traction, what can we expect to see in 2022 from the Air Transport industry?

Idea for Sustainable Air Transport, a hydrogen regional. Source: Sustainable Aero Lab.

  • The years that passed were run-up years. Now the preparations shall lead to the first results.
  • We summarize what we can expect to see during 2022.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 5. Fundamentals recap.

By Bjorn Fehrm

February 4, 2021, ©. Leeham News: We did a simple reality check on two high-profile ideas for Sustainable Air Transport last week, the Eviation Alice project and Heart Aerospace’s ES-19.

We now look at energy usage when performing Sustainable Air Transport flights, but it can be timely to recap some fundamentals of such flights before we discuss this.


Figure 1. A simplified aircraft force model. Source: Leeham Co.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 4. Reality checks.

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 28, 2022, ©. Leeham News: Having discussed where investments would be the most efficient in alleviating our Greenhouse gas problems and identified the low-hanging fruit, we now look at new technology airplanes that can improve the situation.

We start with classical airliners, working our way from small types to the largest, then we discuss the impact of new transport forms like VTOLs for short-haul transportation.

As we will use the Leeham Aircraft Performance Model in some of the work, there will be extra articles (for this one, a Part 4P) which are Paywall, where we use the model to generate deeper data and understanding.

Figure 1. The Alice nine-seater drawings from Eviation’s Web. The present drawing (dark blue) differs from the mid-2021 drawing (light blue, on top). Source: Eviation and Leeham Co.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 4P. Reality checks, the deeper discussion.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

January 28, 2022, ©. Leeham News: This is a complementary article to the Part 4. Reality Checks article. It uses data from Leeham Company’s Aircraft Performance Model to develop the relationship between OEW (Operational Empty Weight) and MZFW (Maximum Zero Fuel Weight) compared with MTOW (Maximum Take-Off Weight) for 74 airliners in the model.

The article also discusses in more detail what’s the reasons behind large weight misses for new projects and how it’s handled.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 3. Low hanging fruit.

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 21, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Whatever is done in terms of new Sustainable technology for the aircraft, will have a limited influence on the amount of Greenhouse gases that Air Transport emits before 2050.

We will only get the new aircraft types into operation about 15 years before the deadline and with, on average, 100 to 200 aircraft per year. That’s 1,500 to 3,000 of the total of 25,000 aircraft that operate in our skies daily. It will not reduce our Greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel, SAF, will help, but only when it’s available in quantity and to a reasonable cost. We can do things that have a much faster effect, and that’s how we manage our flights.

Figure 1. The US flights as seen on Flightradar24 yesterday. Source: Flightradar24.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 2. The problem to solve?

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 14, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Before we dig into the different alternatives we have for more Sustainable Air Transport, let’s look at the problem and its sources.

Figure 1 shows the emissions of CO2 per person since 1900 and the rise of the world temperature. The increase in world temperature changes the weather, with increased weather-related emergencies in recent years.

Figure 1. The increase in CO2 emission per capita and the rise of the world temperature from 1900 to 2018. Source: Wikipedia.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 1. A deeper look.

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 7, 2022, ©. Leeham News: We finished a 34 article series before Christmas about the enormous work involved to get a new aircraft certified for passenger transport.

It was a background article series to the one we start now, a deeper series on what’s involved in designing air transport vehicles that are less polluting for our environment. We have seen a landslide of such projects in the last years, and from an experienced aircraft designer’s desk, most of these are doomed for failure.

Figure 1. The Embraer Energia concept aircraft. A credible Sustainable Air Transport research program. Source: Embraer.

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Pontifications: Bringing some reality on electric airplanes

Nov. 15, 2021, © Leeham News: The momentum and press about electric airplanes is spinning out of control.

By Scott Hamilton

Earlier this month, there was an article from one of the most respected news organizations by a reporter who apparently isn’t an aviation reporter that read like a press release from a start-up company. The normal beat reporter would never have been taken in by the hype.

The start-up claims there will be a battery-powered BAe 146 by 2027 with a 460-mile range. Aviation reporter Jason Rabinowitz had a field day on Twitter with the claim.

LNA’s Bjorn Fehrm wrote a long series about the technical challenges of battery-powered electric airplanes. Let’s now look at the market implications.  Read more

Sustainable Aero Lab disqualifies “Greenwash” investments

By Bjorn Fehrm

August 25, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Times change and the use of words with it. Today, the hundreds of UAM Air Taxi projects talk about how “environmentally friendly” this mode of transportation is, and Boom’s Overture is “the most Sustainable supersonic airliner.” The aerospace media recently focused on how we now have “Space Travel for everyone (in possession of the necessary pocket change).”

The head of Sustainable Aero Lab, Stephan Uhrenbacher, disqualifies these investments in a study on where to invest in fixing air transport’s pressing problems: “The startups receiving the most attention in aerospace recently have been doing space travel and urban air taxis. While these products make for exiting flying objects and satisfy human desire, neither air taxis nor putting more people in space address the problem facing commercial aviation: Flying needs to become carbon-free. And this needs to happen much faster than most people in the industry believe. It opens room for startups to provide components for future aircraft or even entire planes, but also new modes of operation.”

Figure 1. The promising Sustainable Aviation startups. Source: Sustainable Aero Lab.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 13. Later in the Prelaunch Phase

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam, and Andrew Telesca.

July 23, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we went through the initial tasks in the Prelaunch Phase. We talked about Sales and Marketing activities, initial Concept development, and first Supplier contacts.

Now that time has passed, we are three quarters into our Program Plan (Figure 2), and we have to refine our Concept, select Suppliers, and dig deep into how to get Certification.

Figure 1. Windtunnel test of a half model of the wing and high lift devices. Source: ONERA.

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