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Assessment of Aircraft Engine Emissions and their Impact on Aviation

Lack of Proactive Movements within Government Agencies

When assessing the impact of emissions within the aviation industry you begin to wonder what kind of protections are there to guard not only the aviation industry but public citizens and the environment.  With more and more information, studies, and research into aircraft emissions coming to light one point is made ever clearer. The truth is that the aviation sector doesn’t have enough binding laws protecting human health or the environment, and it is because of that element that aircraft emissions have taken their toll. What’s even more puzzling is that the first international standards and practices for aircraft engine emissions weren’t even adopted until 1981, showing once again emissions have only recently been seen as a serious problem. Lucky however, there are some laws that allow outside entities to regulate and enforce emissions standards they set, but who are they and where do they get their authority?

Actions Taken Designed to Protect

Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established on December 2, 1970 in order to combine several agencies with the sole responsibility of researching, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement actives to ensure environmental protection (“Origins,” 2017, ). From the time of its establishment the EPA has continually worked to promote a cleaner, and healthier environmental for everyone in the United States. Although some might describe them as the Environmental Prosecution Agency they serve a very moral purpose for the American People. But have you ever wondered where they get their authority to create upon existing regulations?

Clean Air Act

The first written federal law truly regulating air emissions was the Clean Air Act (ACC) or 42 U.S.C. §7401 et seq. Written in 1970 this law authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to establish National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in order to protect the health of the general public as well as regulate emissions. According to the EPA (2017), “one of the original goals of the ACC was to set and achieve NAAQS in every state by 1975 in order to address the public health and welfare risks posed by certain widespread air pollutants” (para 1).

Since its implementation, the ACC has been amended in 1977 and once more in 1990; where new, updated, achievements were set because the majority of the country was unable to obtain the standards in time. One section in recent years has been getting a lot of attention of late is Section 112. This section however, was barely enforced prior to its 1990 amendment.  This amended was very, very well thought out and set technology based standards. This is huge amendment and cannot be emphasized enough and is one of the primary reasons aircraft use newer, cleaner, engines to this day. Another great thing about this amended is that it requires the EPA to review emission standards every eight years to ensure maximum achievable control technology is being implemented.

Since the 1990 amendment the EPA has set and established recommendations along with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). For example, in 2011they proposed taking steps to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft. In 2014 EPA submitted an information paper to the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization that set a timeframe for initiating the U.S. domestic regulatory process for addressing greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft under the Clean Air Act (“Regulations,” 2017, para 5). Additionally, in 2015 the EPA proposed a process for setting international carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions standards for aircraft and sought input on related issues (“Regulations,” 2017, para 4). You can see the trend emerging, and that only in the past decade, has there ever been a resolute focus from the EPA and the ICAO to really clamp down on aircraft emissions.

History of ICAO and Regulations

Founded on April 4, 1947 and headquartered out of Montreal, Canada the International Civil Aviation Organization was originally created to promote the safe and efficient development of civil aviation (“History,” n.d.).  As of March 2016, there are 191 ICAO members, consisting of 190 of the 193 UN members (“History,” n.d.). One enduring aspect of the organization’s work over the last six decades has been to help States improve civil aviation in their country through projects implemented under ICAO’s Technical Cooperation Program. The technical cooperation program is the program under where aircraft emissions standards are formulated.

The ICAO like the EPA doesn’t directly create emission laws in the United States or internationally but rather provides information, recommendations, and guidance how to comply with them. As for the ICAO emissions standards, they are adopted through by a select committee known as, Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP). CAEP is a technical committee of the ICAO council that is used to help formulate new policies and standards known as CAEP standards. Since their establishment in 1983 CAEP and ICAO have held 10 meetings where all but one resulted in new standards be adopted by the ICAO.

With the passing of each ICAO standard there is a real potential to limit aircraft emissions. The most significant in my opinion were the adoption of CAEP/2 standards which ICAO passed in 1994. These standards were the first of their kind and truly limited aircraft engine emissions resulting in a 20 percent reduction in NOX. Almost a decade later another set of standards were adopted by ICAO in 2004, known as CAEP/6. These recommendations wanted a 12 percent NOX reduction on new engine designs certified by December 31, 2007.  At the most recent meeting, CAEP/8 recommended a further tightening of the NOX standards by 15 percent for newly-certified engines. The Committee also recommended that the CAEP/6 standards be applied to newly-manufactured engines. ICAO approved these recommendations in 2011.

Paris Climate Agreement

Signed on 22 April 2016, the Paris Climate Agreement has been adopted by the195 nations and is set to take effect in the year 2020. The reason why this is such a landmark agreement is because of the upper limit standards it sets on air carriers discharge. As per the agreement any airline found to go beyond the specified limit will be forced to offset their emission growth by purchasing tax credits. This agreement is substantial because it shows there is a global emphasis on reducing aircraft emissions.

Secretary of State John Kerry called the aviation agreement “unprecedented” and said it builds on more than a decade of work by the U.S. and other nations to reduce aircraft emissions.

“It is another significant step in the global movement to take ambitious action to address climate change exemplified by yesterday’s action to cross the threshold for the Paris Agreement to enter into force,” he said in a statement.

It is however my opinion that this agreement is an absolute dud. For example, the number one problem I see it that countries are going to feel the pressure from special interests and lobbying groups over the six-year preliminary period and remove themselves from this agreement because it isn’t obligatory until the year 2035. Another problem being spotted is that while it is estimated from Environmental Defense Fund calculation that the agreement by expiration would decrease emissions by 2.5 billion tons the estimations our air travel dependency emission growth is expected to surpass increase efficiencies. The third problem with this agreement is that it only covers 60 percent of aviation because it only regulates international flights. With those figures alone the International Council for Clean Transportation already predicted that the Paris Climate agreement will offset only about three-quarters of the growth in emissions from international aviation above 2020 levels. Finally, another study published in Nature in June 2016, stated that with the current commitment level of other countries, current country pledges are too low to lead to a temperature rise below the Paris Agreement temperature limit of well below 3.6 degrees.

Climate Action Plan

On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced a Climate Action Plan that set forth a series of executive actions to further reduce GHGs, prepare the U.S. for the impacts of climate change, and lead international efforts to address global climate change.21 29

As part of the Climate Action Plan, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum directing the EPA to work expeditiously to complete carbon pollution standards for the power sector. the Climate Action Plan, the President also indicated that the United States was working internationally to make progress in a variety of areas and specifically noted the progress being made by ICAO to develop global CO2 emission standards for aircraft. The final endangerment and cause or contribute findings for aircraft GHG emissions under section 231(a)(2)(A) of the CAA are a preliminary but necessary first step to begin to address GHG emissions from the aviation sector, the highest-emitting category of transportation sources that the EPA has not yet addressed. U.S. aircraft emissions in 2014 represented 12 percent of emissions from the U.S. transportation sector, and in 2010, the latest year with complete global emissions data, U.S. aircraft emissions represented 29 percent of global aircraft emissions with projections showing a radical 43 percent increase over the next 10 years.

Have We Focused Enough

EPA Finalizes Clean Air Act Finding that Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Certain Classes of Aircraft Endanger Human Health and Welfare

The EPA finalized findings that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from certain classes of engines used in aircraft contribute to the air pollution that causes climate change endangering public health and welfare under section 231(a) of the Clean Air Act. These findings focus on the six well-mixed GHGs that together represent the largest driver of human-caused climate change: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. The EPA’s final endangerment and contribution findings for aircraft GHG emissions are in preparation for a future domestic rulemaking process to adopt future GHG.

Effects of Aircraft Emissions

Safety within the aviation community has always and will continue to be a field where safety for all is the top priority.  Within this industry however, there have been a vast amount of highly substantiated research showing that the aviation industry has somewhat dropped the ball.   You see until recently there have been very little standards for aircraft emissions but large amounts of research showing they are in fact hazardous to human health and have led to premature deaths on a global scale.  Since the mid 1900’s aircraft emissions and the dependency on aircraft transportation has risen along with CO2 levels from 300 to nearly 400 parts per million (ppm) globally. Throughout our look into aviation safety we will see how the lack of aviation safety is not only having an impact on human health but on the environment as a whole. Throughout this in depth look on aviation safety we will explore how fine particular matter, ozone, and nitrogen emissions have contributed to premature deaths, what the impact aviation safety is having on the environment, and if geographical locations can help shield us from aircraft emissions.

Severe Emission Hazards

Particulate matter (PM) and ground-level ozone (O3) have been proven to be associated with increased risk of mortality. While significant progress has been made in reducing ambient concentrations of air pollution in the United States, recent levels of PM and O3 and remain elevated from the natural background and are within the range of concentrations found by epidemiology studies to affect health. This article estimates the public health burden attributable to recent PM2.5 and ozone air quality levels within the continental United States. The World Health Organization Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study found that urban PM2.5 alone was associated with about 28,000 premature mortalities in the United States, Canada, and Cuba (Anenberg et al). 35,000 respiratory premature mortalities due to O3 in North America and

141,000 cardiopulmonary and lung cancer deaths due to PM2.5 in North America. The discussion includes PM2.5 because the NOX emitted by aircraft engines can react in the atmosphere to form nitrate, a component of PM2.5.

What is Particular Matter

PM graphic showing size compared to hair and grain of sand Particulate matter is a generic term for a broad class of chemically and physically diverse substances. It can be principally characterized as discrete particles that exist in the condensed (liquid or solid) phase spanning several orders of magnitude in size. Since 1987, EPA has delineated that subset of inhalable particles small enough to penetrate to the thoracic region (including the tracheobronchial and alveolar regions) of the respiratory tract (referred to as thoracic particles). Fine particles are produced primarily by combustion processes and by transformations of gaseous emissions (e.g., SOX, NOX and VOC) in the atmosphere. Coarse dust particles (PM10) are 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter. Sources include crushing or grinding operations and dust stirred up by vehicles on roads. Fine particles (PM2.5) are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, and can only be seen with an electron microscope. Fine particles are produced from all types of combustion, including motor vehicles, power plants, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning, and some industrial processes.

Health Effects of Particular Matter

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines PM as pollutants such as; sulfate, nitrates and black carbon. According to *****, “Air pollution by fine aerosol particles is among the leading causes of poor health and premature mortality worldwide.” With that, it is really no surprise there is an increased effort in government to develop legislation to implement stricter air pollution/ quality regulations and laws.  There are still however, large concentrations not only in the United States but Europe where areas are still exposed to high amounts of pollution.  That is why the United States and its European Union partners are currently in collaboration researching the potential impact of aircraft pollutants and implementing stiffer air quality standards for fine particular matter (PM2.5). Studies conducted by **** show that this particular matter can penetrate deep into the lungs and into the cardiovascular system posing a risk to human health. During a study conducted from 2008-2013, the WHO found that from 795 different cities across 67 countries, that urban global air pollution levels raised by 8 percent despite improvements made to those regions and cause more than 3 million deaths worldwide.

What is Ozone and Nitrogen Dioxide

Ozone (O3) is a colorless or faintly blue water soluble gas which has a chlorine smell to it and according to (Greefacts, 2003) is the most important photochemical oxidant in the lower atmosphere (troposphere). O3 is formed by aircraft engines, inside the troposphere, when they release a combination of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides (NOX) in the presence of sunlight. O3 molecules are broken up into two chemically similar but extremely different roles. That is why the lower atmosphere is considered the bad ozone and where aircraft emissions come into direct contact with all facets of life. It is aircraft pollutants like nitrogen dioxide (NO2), that are health hazards and can unfortunately be found in highly populated, suburban and rural areas. It is that routine and continuous contact with O3 and NOX emissions that can and will have serious implications on not only human health but the environment.

Health Effects of O3 and NO2

The health and welfare effects of O3 are well documented and are assessed in the EPA’s Air Quality Criteria Document (AQCD). According to the AQCD, “people who are more susceptible to effects associated with exposure to ozone can include children, the elderly, and individuals with respiratory disease such as asthma.” (2006). According to research the leading contributors to these illnesses stems from spending more time outdoors. The reason why O3 effects your health is because there is a direct link between irritation within your respiratory system which can cause coughing, throat irritation and problems breathing. It has also been known to resulted in more frequent asthma attacks, in-turn requiring more recurrent medical attention. O3 can also cause problems in your lungs and even pulmonary inflation in the heathiest of individuals. In addition, the National Research Council (NRC) concluded that, “exposure to ozone can contribute to premature death and that ozone-related mortality should be included in estimates of the health benefits of reducing ozone exposure”. The NRC also suggests that there is evidence of a contribution of O3 to “cardiovascular-related morbidity” and “highly suggestive evidence that short-term ozone exposure directly or indirectly contributes to nonaccidental and cardiopulmonary-related mortality.”

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), is a pollutant from aircraft fuel combustion that if inhaled in high concentrations has been known to cause inflammation in your airways. Furthermore, NO2 gases can cause smog and known to be central in the formation of PM and ground level ozone, both of which have been linked to poor health effect potentially causing premature deaths (*********). *******************************************

Premature Deaths Linked to Emissions

Global aviation emissions cause 16,000 premature deaths per year due to population exposure to aviation-attributable PM and O3 (Iopscience). It is important to note however, that premature deaths per year are differ per region because of exposure to PM2.5 and O3 emissions.  The table below shows premature deaths per year and was calculated by using the WHO-CRF.

Full flight LTO LTO/FF (%)
North America 1,500 (850–2300) 650 (290–1300)                  43
Europe 3,700 (2100–5500) 1,800 (1100–2600)                  49
Asia 8,200 (3700–13 000) 740 (420–1200)                   9
Other regions 2,700 (1400–4200) 780 (420–1300)                  29
Global 16,000 (8300–24 000) 4,000 (2400–6200)                  25

As shown by Table 1 from Iopscience, almost 90 percent of premature deaths were caused by exposure to PM emissions.  Whereas 15 percent of premature deaths were caused by ozone. The lower increase for full flight emissions is consistent with the relatively diffuse impact of the dominant cruise emissions being captured by the lower resolution global model. Iopsciencefurther estimates that aviation emissions cause 2100 ozone-related premature deaths per year worldwide and that LTO emissions alone account for 2.6 percent of the ozone-associated premature deaths due to aviation emissions. This outcome directly correlates with the long-standing impression both PM2.5 and O3 emissions have had on human health. The impact of aircraft emissions to our personal health is clear and our health is deteriorating in ways that until recently we would never have thought possible.

The aircraft NOX emission standards we are promulgating would affect ambient concentrations of air pollutants. Nationally, levels of PM, ozone, and NOX are declining. However as of March 30, 2012, over 15 million people live in areas designated nonattainment for one or more of the current NAAQS. These numbers do not include the people living in areas where there is a future risk of failing to maintain or attain the NAAQS. States with ozone nonattainment areas are required to take action to bring. That however isn’t the only tragedy; our environment and the very building blocks of life are also being effected.

Environmental Effects of PM, O3, and NOX

Particle pollution, specifically fine particles (PM2.5) are the main cause of reduced visibility (haze) in parts of the United States, including many of our treasured national parks and wilderness areas.

Elevated ozone levels contribute to environmental effects, with impacts to plants and ecosystems being of most concern. Ozone can produce both acute and chronic injury in sensitive species depending on the concentration level and the duration of the exposure. Ozone effects also tend to accumulate over the growing season of the plant, so that even low concentrations experienced for a longer duration have the potential to create chronic stress on vegetation. Ozone damage to plants includes visible injury to leaves and impaired photosynthesis, both of which can lead to reduced plant growth and reproduction, resulting in reduced crop yields, forestry production, and use of sensitive ornamentals in landscaping. In addition, the impairment of photosynthesis, the process by which the plant makes carbohydrates (its source of energy and food), can lead to a subsequent reduction in root growth and carbohydrate storage below ground, resulting in other, more subtle plant and ecosystems impacts. These latter impacts include increased susceptibility of plants to insect attack, disease, harsh weather, interspecies competition and overall decreased plant vigor. The adverse effects of ozone on forest and other natural vegetation can potentially lead to species shifts and loss from the affected ecosystems, resulting in a loss or reduction in associated ecosystem goods and services. Lastly, visible ozone injury to leaves can result in a loss of aesthetic value in areas of special scenic significance like national parks and wilderness areas.

of NOX from aircraft engines contribute to atmospheric deposition of nitrogen in the U.S. Atmospheric deposition of nitrogen contributes to acidification, altering biogeochemistry and affecting animal and plant life in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems across the United States. The sensitivity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems to acidification from nitrogen deposition is predominantly governed by geology. Prolonged exposure to excess nitrogen deposition in sensitive areas acidifies lakes, rivers and soils. Increased acidity in surface waters creates inhospitable conditions for biota and affects the abundance and nutritional value of preferred prey species, threatening biodiversity and ecosystem function. Over time, acidifying deposition also removes essential nutrients from forest soils, depleting the capacity of soils to neutralize future acid loadings and negatively affecting forest sustainability. Major effects include a decline in sensitive forest tree species, such as red spruce (Picea rubens) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum); and a loss of biodiversity of fishes, zooplankton, and macro invertebrates. In addition to the role nitrogen deposition plays in acidification, nitrogen deposition also leads to nutrient enrichment and altered biogeochemical cycling. In aquatic systems increased nitrogen can alter species assemblages and cause eutrophication. In terrestrial systems nitrogen loading can lead to loss of nitrogen sensitive lichen species, decreased biodiversity of grasslands, meadows and other sensitive habitats, and increased potential for invasive species. Adverse impacts on soil chemistry and plant life have been observed for areas heavily influenced by atmospheric deposition of nutrients, metals and acid species, resulting in species shifts, loss of biodiversity, forest decline damage to forest productivity and reductions in ecosystem services

There are two types of emissions absolute and surface. Absolute emissions by aircraft are rather minuet compared to those found on the surface. It has however been shown that the greenhouse effect of water and NOX at cruising altitudes, which is roughly 7.5 miles above ground is large compared to emissions found on Earth’s surface. This is believed to the large amount of flights, low temperatures, and larger radioactive productivity. Model computations from (*******) indicate that emission of nitrogen oxides has doubled the background concentration in the upper troposphere between 40°N and 60°N and has caused an increase in O3 by roughly 5-20 percent.

This is the area in which the most care must be taken in how biofuels are produced. If biofuels are produced in the “correct” way, they can greatly reduce GHG emissions. If produced incorrectly, they can increase emissions. Here is how.

First, plants use carbon dioxide, the major GHG of concern, to grow and produce food. So, plants are able to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and thus decrease global warming. Biofuels, when grown from plants, can thus offset their CO2 admissions because they take up the gas during growth that is produced when the fuel is burned. The idea is that if there is a one-to-one relationship, then the gas produced is the same as the gas taken in and there is no net impact on global warming. The problem is that achieving the one-to-one ratio may be impossible.

For starters, energy has to be invested into growing the crop itself. This energy comes in the form of planting seeds, tilling and preparing the ground, and importing water and nutrients. As it turns out, you cannot get something for nothing and so many crops require more energy input than they give out in the end. In other words, if you take into account the GHG emissions that occur just to grow the crop and add that to the GHG emissions from burning the crop, there is more CO2 produced than taken up and global warming worsens. As of yet, there is no good solution to this problem. Many companies are looking to invest energy in the form of sunlight so that there is no GHG emitted during the production phase. There is still a net energy INPUT, but not GHG is produced. This seems to be most feasible with algae.

The other problem to consider is land use. If land is cleared to grow a biofuel, then the plant life that existed there is eliminated. This problem is considered in more detail in the article on biofuel drawbacks, but the main point is that carbon is produced to clear that land and the benefits of the plants on the land are lost. By some estimates and depending on the type of plant life removed, the impact could be a carbon debt that can take as long as 500 years to pay back. Again, the solution to this problem may be algae.

If the above technical impediments can be overcome, then the net impact of biofuels on the environment can be limited. In such a scenario, the GHG emissions and impact on global warming will be far lower with biofuels than with fossil fuels. The feasibility of achieving this advantage remains to be seen

LAX pollutionGeography Will Not Protect You

You might think however that you can just hide from the problem but studies performed near Los Angeles International Airport tell an unbelievable conclusion. One would even think the further you are from an airport the safer they would be with respect to aircraft emissions. That belief however, isn’t always the case. In fact, according to Lourdes Maurice, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s chief scientific and technical adviser for environment says, “the locations with the most active airports aren’t always the ones that suffer the biggest health impacts” (***). As shown above neighborhoods on take-off and landings paths can be directly affected from miles away. Recent studies into aircraft emissions at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) conducted by the University of Southern California and the University of Washington that the wind has displaced aircraft emission particles over a 23-square mile area. These finding immediately raised health concerns because of the potential for PM, O3, and NOX particles. Researchers also confirmed that the amount of pollution generated from LAX each day would take somewhere between 174 and 491 miles of freeway traffic to generate the amount of pollution released east of LAX. The study validates the long-standing complaints citizens have had with LAX being a significant source of air pollution and confirms what some community activist have said all along about aircraft emissions and the impact they have on our health and environment.

Geography simply put can’t shield us from the effects of aircraft emissions and with (IATA) projecting the demand for air transportation to increase between 5-6 percent per year it’s apparent that aircraft emissions aren’t going anywhere but into our lungs and around our planet. The simple fact is that aircraft, engines, technology, and aviation management have to get more efficient in order for us to truly combat harmful emissions.  We as a society have to also learn to adapt to the growing concerns of the 21st century and remain flexible in our paths. The question is, will we? And what is science and the aviation industry doing to help?

How Science and the Aviation Industry are Combatting Emissions


The affect emissions have played from a moral and ethical perspective is quite astonishing within the aviation sector.  I believe it’s that isn’t actually a win-win for the aviation industry to help combat emissions through technology and many companies are doing just that. In the past 40 years, there has been significant steps made by the aviation sector to regulate themselves rather than allowing other to regulate them.  Additionally, the aviation sector is the only sector that has actually made self-determined stride to reduce emissions. It’s important to note that from a business standpoint this is genesis.  You see its genius because by reducing aircraft time on the ground, and reducing fuel consumption, and making aircraft lighter, using composites instead of metals, its actually in the long run saving the aviation company’s money. The more time in the air the more flights you can offer. The less time on the ground, the less emissions you throw into the environment. But

A New Type of Airplane

The problem is that developing a new, modern airplane is that it can decades and take billions of dollars. However, over the last four decades one company that has continued to push innovation into aircraft design has been Airbus.  That push to reduce costs and emissions has made them a world-leading manufacturer of commercial aircraft.  Airbus’ approach to design new aircraft is simple, “If we can make planes already in service more efficient, why not just make new ones as good as possible?” That approach has propelled them to leading the industry, and lead to a modern aerodynamic design called the Airbus A350XWB family of aircraft.This family of aircraft from top down is more efficient, which means lower noise and fewer emissions at every stage, proving Airbus’ commitment to protecting the environment being an industry leader.

The Airbus A350

When designing a new aircraft is isn’t hard to see why so many airplane manufacturers look to nature to play and inspirational role when designing new airplane concepts. For that reason, it isn’t hard to believe that Airbus with their design of the A350 XWB did just that when looking to improve upon their past aircraft designs. That blend of science and nature represents the ongoing missions to design the perfect aircraft. The A350 XWB has been designed for maximum efficiency, which means lower noise and fewer emissions at every stage of the journey. Airbus brings together the very latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies in the A350 XWB to provide a 25 per cent step-change in fuel efficiency compared to its current long-range competitor. Simply put, every ton of fuel saved means more than 3 tons of CO2 avoided. (*****************). What is really is amazing what they have accomplished with this design but, one might ask how is this aircraft different from others and what allows Airbus to reduce emissions and fuel burn rates? That my friend is the science.

A350 Engine

You see not any engine powers the A350.  Greatly making contributions to the environmental achievements of Airbus industries is the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine.  They provide the lowest carbon emissions of any widebody powerplant. With the use of these engines Airbus has ensured the aircraft exceed all current environmental standards set in place and have even allowed for margins for additional requirements. Combinations of these engines advantages to other show a 25 percent lower operating cost, fuel burn and CO2 emissions when compared with previous generations (********). This however is the only scientific advantage the A350 possess. It’s actually airframe efficiency also provides cutting edge technology allowing for reduced emissions as well.

A350 Composite Technologies 

The sheer volume of composites used over the construction of this aircraft is staggering. According to Airbus over 70 percent of the A350 XWB’s weight-efficient airframe is made from advanced materials, combining 53 per cent of composite structures with fully recyclable titanium and advanced aluminum alloys, the aircraft’s innovative all-new Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) fuselage also results in lower fuel consumption. This allows for a lighter aircraft, with better fuel efficiency and reduced aircraft emissions.

Modern Engines Making the Difference

There are two engines in that have been under development from General Electric and Pratt &Whitney for over 30 years. These engines are proven to both reduce fuel burn consumption by ****** and reduce emissions by **** percent (*********).

Gear Turbofan


NexGen Guidance Systems

The use of Biofuels

The effect of aircraft emissions has spurred science to find ways to reduce greenhouse gases not only through aircraft, and engine designs but through fuel itself.  One of the ways the aviation sector is using technology to combat emissions is with advanced research into agrofuel or biofuel. Biofuel is derived from biomass and can be used for several purposes; one being the aviation sector. Biofuels whether you’ve heard of it or not is surprisingly nothing new and has been around since Henry Ford designed the Model T. I believe the reason now why there is substantial focus on using alternative fuels is because fuel prices, and the aviation industry as a whole wants to find ways to reduce costs through innovation in-turn reducing emissions.

Most of the biofuels are derived from biomass or bio waste. Biomass can be termed as material which is derived from recently living organism. Most of the biomass is obtained from plants and animals and also include their byproducts. The most important feature of biomass is that they are renewable sources of energy unlike other natural resources like coal, petroleum and even nuclear fuel. Some of the agricultural products that are specially grown for the production of biofuels are switchgrass, soybeans and corn in United States. Biofuels are the best way of reducing the emission of the greenhouse gases. They can also be looked upon as a way of energy security which stands as an alternative of fossil fuels that are limited in availability. Today, the use of biofuels has expanded throughout the globe. Some of the major producers and users of biogases are Asia, Europe and America. Theoretically, biofuel can be easily produced through any carbon source; making the photosynthetic plants the most commonly used material for production.

The Science behind Biofuel

Although biofuels have been around for hundreds of years creating biofuels is still a very tedious process. Currently scientist use two methods to extract biomass energy from plants. The first being growing sugar crops and through fermentation process ethanol is produced.  working how to convert biomass energy is liquid fuel.  As for now there are currently two methods being used to solve this problem. The second method is plants are grown that naturally produce oil like jatropha and algae. These oils are heated to reduce their viscosity after which they are directly used as fuel for diesel engines. ******* said that “Biofuels are the best way of reducing the emission of the greenhouse gases” and I have to say I might agree.

In 2013 and 2014 the NASA performed an in-flight test with their DC-8’s.  During the flight, they burned several types of fuel blends to include a JP-8 jet fuel or a 50-50 blend and a renewable alternative fuel of hydro process esters, and fatty acids which were produced from camelina plant oil. A trio of research aircraft took turns flying behind the DC-8 at distances ranging from 300 feet to more than 20 miles to take measurements on emissions and study contrail formation as the different fuels were burned. During the flight test data was collected on the effects of alternative fuels on engine performance, emissions and aircraft-generated contrails at altitudes flown by commercial airliners. The study later found that using biofuels to assist jet engine power significantly reduced particle emissions in their exhaust by as much as 50-70 percent. This research proves that biofuels will continue serious alternative to standard fuels for years to come.

Some airline companies are already jumping on the biofuel wagon. In 2013, United Airlines announced their partnership, in which United will purchase up to 15 million gallons of biofuel over a three-year period (*****). United will use a 30 percent biofuel 70 percent traditional mixture and believes it will lower greenhouse gas emissions by up to 60 percent. Although the market price of biofuels is almost the same as traditional fuels the overall cost benefits is higher. They are a cleaner fuel and have been proven to produce fewer emissions. This will be allowing engines to continue to run smoother reducing maintenance costs. And who knows in the end as more and more companies continue to innovate biofuels could one day be even cheaper.

In Conclusion

. Over the last 50 years, the aviation industry has cut fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by more than 80 per cent, NOx emissions by 90 per cent and noise by 75 per cent (**********).



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