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Insights Jet Zero: the race to make aviation carbon neutral

The climate crisis has been a major challenge in every industry. With the visible effects of climate change all over the world, there’s now a greater sense of urgency to limit the use of fossil fuels and replace them with cleaner sources. Aviation accounts for around 3% of global carbon dioxide emissions and it remains one of the fastest-growing contributors of greenhouse gases.

The AtkinsRéalis Group is committed to engineering a sustainable society for future generations. The Group, along with our brands Atkins, Faithful + Global and Acuity, work hard to help meet the goals of our clients. Sustainable projects and initiatives are a core part of our business.

How does aviation affect the environment?

Aviation has a major impact on the environment due to the CO2 emissions from engine exhaust fumes. The effects are far greater because it releases carbon dioxide at high altitudes, which stays in the atmosphere, warming the Earth for a longer period. There’s also the water vapour and nitrogen oxide produced by aircraft, both of which have a damaging effect on the environment. According to The Guardian, a transatlantic flight could cost the global economy $3,000 as a result of the effects of climate change with the costs coming in the form of repairs of subsequent floods and droughts. There’s mounting evidence that air travel is a huge problem for the environment and as countries return to normality after, passenger numbers are likely to increase which could mean a rise in flights. While air pollution is the biggest problem, there are also the effects on the local environment from land taken up by the airport as well as the waste generated by terminal buildings. Therefore, massive changes and investments are needed to reduce the environmental impact of air travel. 

image of a plane

Achieving carbon-neutral aviation

So, what can we do to make aviation carbon neutral? While aircraft is still likely to be powered by fossil fuels in the future, many actions can be taken to move closer to carbon-neutral aviation. For example, switching to sustainable aviation fuels can help with reducing the carbon footprint – and it remains one of the best options to pave the way for greener flying. It represents a major opportunity to reduce carbon emissions from aviation. Synthetic fuels are also another option for creating sustainable air and transport in the aviation industry.

Furthermore, hydrogen-powered aircrafts have the potential to reduce the carbon in the atmosphere, as the only waste is clean water. Hydrogen as a source of energy has been on the rise for many years, but it’s now finally starting to take off in the aviation industry. British-American company ZeroAvia developed a pioneering aircraft with hydrogen-electric, and it took off at a development hub in the UK. There are plenty more aviation developments happening in other countries to help cut emissions. For example, Vancouver-based airline Harbour Air has been testing flights with a plane powered by an electric motor. There’s also a commercial electric plane known as the Pipistrel Alpha Electro aircraft, which has taken off in countries such as Australia. In addition to hydrogen, electric aircraft is another option for helping reduce emissions and making aviation carbon-neutral. 

What are the job opportunities in Aviation?

Aviation and aerospace jobs will continue to be in high demand. With aviation being a global sector, there’s also plenty of career pathways and opportunities for advancement, as well as the chance to work all over the world. AtkinsRéalis works across entire life cycles, which means professionals will have the chance to work alongside the top talent in the industry where they can grow and learn.

Grow your career with AtkinsRéalis

At AtkinsRéalis , we’re passionate about sustainability initiatives. We partner with clients all around the world to help engineer a sustainable society and we’ve outlined our route map to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030 across all our corporate activities. We provide plenty of career progression opportunities for professionals in the security, aerospace and defence sectors.

We’re a leader in the aerospace space industry and recruit for a range of roles, including planned maintenance technician, mechanical engineer, change consultant and business architect/enterprise architect. Our team is dedicated to delivering sustainable solutions that help our clients and candidates succeed.

Contact us to find out more and browse our aerospace jobs today.