DEEPTI’S RESEARCH DISPATCH

Can Aviation Go Net-Zero?

And how fast do we need to innovate to get there? Research Tidbit #8

Deepti Kannapan
7 min readApr 29, 2022

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Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

From January to March 2022, I set myself a sustainability reading project, where I read about climate change, and blogged about my reading progress.

It’s now April and that reading project is complete. It was such a success that I’ve charged headfirst into the next one.

Here is a continuation of my blog series about what I learned. This post is about the US 2021 Aviation [Climate] Action Plan (AAP).

Context

The FAA produced a climate action plan in November 2021, in response to an executive order by the Biden administration. (All the quotes in this post are from the AAP. Emphasis added by me.)

[…] President Biden on January 27, 2021 signed Executive Order 14008, “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad,” and directed “each federal agency to develop a plan to increase the resilience of its facilities and operations to the impacts of climate change.” The FAA is now working to implement its Climate Action Plan in collaboration with other federal partners, so it can better coordinate with airports to ensure resilience.

It turns out that many other government agencies have either made climate action plans or are in the process of doing so. So, it will be interesting to look at some of the other ones next. (But not this quarter. I have plenty to read already.)

I chose to read this because I was curious about how one can approach mitigating the emissions of an entire industry.

Especially since aviation is such a big emitter. If you ever use one of those online carbon footprint calculators, the question of how much you fly has the biggest impact on your result.

I’m interested in technology roadmaps that speak to a coherent, big-picture strategy on what needs to be developed. Then I (or you) can work on some of enabling initiatives and know we are moving the needle.

The aviation action plan is the first industry-wide action plan I’ve seen. I hope to find similar plans for every sector.

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Deepti Kannapan

Painter, occasional cartoonist, aerospace engineer. Writes about sustainable technology, creativity, and journaling.