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Global Impact Assessment of Regulations and Policies for Sustainable Aviation by 2050

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Getting an accurate glimpse of aviation’s environmental impact

International government bodies are introducing a range of rules and regulations aimed at reducing the aviation sector’s environmental impact. But will they actually achieve their intended goals? To find out, one project is thoroughly evaluating the effectiveness of these policies through to 2050.

Transport and Mobility

Although today’s aircraft are leaner, greener and safer than ever before, there’s still room for improvement. With the environmental impact of aviation being a major public concern, international government bodies such as the European Union and the International Civil Aviation Organisation are introducing new rules and regulations intended to reduce the sector’s environmental footprint. Part of the EU’s Clean Sky 2 Technology Evaluator initiative, the EU-funded GLIMPSE2050 (Global Impact Assessment of Regulations and Policies for Sustainable Aviation by 2050) project evaluates how effective these potential regulations are at reducing aviation’s environmental impact. Based on this evaluation, the project makes recommendations to targeted stakeholders, such as Clean Sky 2, EU and national governments, and the aviation sector. “By thoroughly evaluating currently discussed policies, we can provide decision makers with an accurate ‘glimpse’ at aviation’s environmental impact at a global scale up to the year 2050,” says Michel van Eenige, R&D manager at the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) and GLIMPSE2050 project coordinator.

Overcoming challenges

The project focuses on estimating the noise and emission reductions that can be achieved through the new regulations currently being discussed. In Clean Sky 2, researchers are also working to evaluate to what extent new technologies can help aviation achieve the environmental goals set out in the EU’s Flightpath 2050. “We are currently in the process of quantifying the environmental impact of the selected regulations and policies at a global scale up to 2050,” explains van Eenige. “Although it’s too soon to make a definite statement on what the most important results are, I strongly believe that this quantification will have a positive impact on the aviation industry.” This work required researchers to overcome several challenges. For example, an early challenge was conducting a focused literature review of the myriad of relevant regulations and policies. “By first clearly defining the scope of our work, we were able to conduct a systematic and structured literature review,” adds van Eenige. With the literature review complete, researchers then faced the challenge of modelling and data collection. “Here we leveraged NLR’s vast experience of working on a number of EU framework projects, our expertise in addressing environmental challenges, and our carefully cultivated international networks,” remarks van Eenige.

Towards the Green Deal

With the project set to end in the spring of 2021, researchers are busy finalising their quantifications. “When all is said and done, I hope the project serves as the basis for further research on opportunities for improving, developing and harmonising aviation regulations and policies,” notes van Eenige. “In doing so, aviation can become a true partner in achieving the European Green Deal ambitions for net-zero emissions.” Van Eenige says that the project plans to organise a dissemination workshop at the end of the project. “This will be an outstanding opportunity to discuss the project’s results with key stakeholders and plan a path forward regarding the exploitation of these results,” he concludes.


GLIMPSE2050, aviation, aviation regulations, aircraft, aircraft technology, Clean Sky 2, European Green Deal

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