Airlines are looking for methods to lessen their impact on the environment, from reducing the fuel they use to altering flight paths so they produce fewer contrails.

Fuel is used by aircraft in enormous amounts. The airplane fuel capacity for a Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet is 63,000 gallons (240,000 liters). This explains why air travel for people or cargo is so energy-intensive and harmful to the environment. One trip can produce as much CO2 as many people do in a whole year, and over the next few decades, it’s predicted that there will be an alarming increase in the number of flights worldwide. Aviation is one of the fastest-growing industries yet contributes very little to global greenhouse gas emissions when compared to other industries. The number of flights increased on average by 5% annually between 2000 and 2019. In 2019, it was responsible for 2.5 percent of global CO2 emissions. Flights and passenger numbers fell after COVID-19, but it is anticipated that they will rise again and reach 2019 levels within a few years. All of this means that we must start taking aircraft emissions considerably more seriously. However, little work has been achieved thus far on how to genuinely decarbonize airplanes, despite their steadily increasing efficiency.

Long-term aviation must totally transition away from fossil fuels if the world is to achieve the substantial reductions in carbon emissions outlined in the Paris Agreement on climate change. Can we develop alternate fuels for our aircraft or perhaps alter their flight characteristics to make them less harmful to the environment?