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Researchers plan for net-zero aviation

An international group of experts are building an evidence-based simulator to explore the potential scenarios for achieving net-zero flights. 

The Aviation Impact Accelerator (AIA) simulator will capture the whole aviation sector, from the sources of renewable electricity and raw materials to the production and transport of fuel. 

This will allow leaders in the industry and government to gain an understanding of the potential for change and the trade-offs between decisions. 

Professor Rob Miller, co-lead of the project at the University of Cambridge said: ‘Achieving an aviation sector with no climate impact is one of society’s biggest challenges.

‘Solving it will require a complex combination of technology, business, human behaviour and policy. We have assembled a world-class team of academics and industry experts to take on this challenge.’


white airliner on runwayBy using the simulator, experts will be able to predict future scenarios to 2050 and calculate the resource requirements, such as renewable electricity and land use, the climate impact and the cost of flying. 

Options include the type of energy used, such as hydrogen, batteries and a range of aviation fuels and the type of aircraft technologies. 

Clare Shine, director of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership added: ‘International travel helps people and societies connect.

‘To retain this opportunity for future generations, we must urgently address aviation’s environmental impact as part of systemic decarbonisation of the economy. This calls for imaginative and inclusive innovation, which is why the Aviation Impact Accelerator brings together insight from industry, policy and civil society.’

The simulator was conceived in early 2020 at a roundtable hosted by HRH The Prince of Wales and attended by senior industry leaders, government and academia and the official launch of the Aviation Impact Accelerator will take place at COP26 in November.

Photo by Iwan Shimko




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