EBACE 2022 looked at sustainability not only through the lens of environment but also services, work environment, and inclusion thus providing an all-round sustainable future’s pathway
As the industry advances towards its net-zero emissions goal, sustainability is a strong focus and EBACE 2022 highlighted issues as well as many initiatives around sustainability. The inaugural EBACE Business Aviation Sustainability Summit that took place at the show, witnessed industry leaders examining business aviation’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, increase the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and generally move toward a more environmentally friendly future.
Last September, the industry updated its Business Aviation Commitment on Climate Change (BACCC) and pledged to achieve netzero carbon emissions by 2050. EBACE 2022 also featured the latest on next-generation aviation-propulsion technologies — including aviation’s electric-powered future and advanced air mobility — the use of market-based innovations, flight efficiency and fuel reduction, all in support of the net-zero goal. However, this year at EBACE 2022, sustainability was not only looked through the lens of environment but also services, work environment, and inclusion thus providing an all-round sustainable future’s pathway.
LAUNCH OF S.T.A.R.S.
European business aviation companies were provided with a new tool for moving forward on sustainability and broadening their workforce with EBAA’s ambitious Standards & Training for Aviation Responsibility and Sustainability programme – or S.T.A.R.S.
Conceived three years ago at the 2019 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) by One Young World delegates, S.T.A.R.S. was officially launched May 24 at EBACE 2022 , with a panel of EBAA Young Ambassadors describing the three-tier, self-certification program of goal-setting, progress monitoring and full implementation.
“This is an off-the-shelf program that we can implement. As you know, business aviation is not producing lots of carbon compared with other industries, but with public perception, if we want to survive, we need to go for sustainability. More customers are asking for it,” said Nuno Perestrelo, Procurement Manager with Luxaviation, one of six companies that participated in the S.T.A.R.S. pilot programme.
Switzerland-based charter operator Cat Aviation also completed Tier 1 of the pilot programme for environmental and social standards, and decided to move onto Tier 2. Patrick Müry, Cat Aviation’s Flight Dispatch/Sales and Sustainability Officer said, “The good thing about S.T.A.R.S. is it gives you a step-by-step guideline, so even smaller operators can get it done.”
Tier 1 of S.T.A.R.S. involves self-measurement and writing a policy for continuous improvement on sustainability and social aims. Tiers 2 and 3 are when organisations implement the policy and make it part of their culture, in the model of the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) and the International Standard for Business Aircraft Handling (IS-BAH).
“Start off small. First, appoint a sustainability officer, educate at least this one person and to spread awareness. That’s what the first year of S.T.A.R.S. is all about. Start by measuring your carbon footprint, then maybe tomorrow you can start offsetting,” said Magdalena Korpal, Head of Security for Luxair.
SUSTAINABILITY ATTRACTS YOUNG TALENT
S.T.A.R.S. was designed by EBAA Young Ambassadors to go beyond emissions reductions and include social topics such as workplace diversity, gender equality and inclusion. Working toward these standards could be essential for companies looking to attract and retain the next generation of talent.
“This is really a transformation of our industry, so if you start with the culture and empower your people, you will come up with new solutions,” said Stewart D’Leon, NBAA Director of Environmental and Technical Operations, likening S.T.A.R.S. to NBAA’s new Leadership in a Sustainable Flight Department Accreditation Program, which just accepted its first round of applicants.
SAF LANDS AT GENEVA AIRPORT
For the first time in its history, sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) was available at Geneva Airport (GVA) to be used to lower carbon emissions for outbound flights. The supply came ahead of EBACE 2022. “SAF has the potential to reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions as much as 80 per cent, compared to a fossil equivalent. Stakeholders with the Business Aviation Coalition for Sustainable Aviation Fuel secured agreements to make the SAF available at GVA. FBO/Ground Handling and aircraft fuel provider Jet Aviation, together with TotalEnergies, worked in coordination to make the SAF available,” stated the organisers.
“One of the key issues we are advocating for in Europe is the geographical spread of SAF,” said European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) Secretary-General Athar Husain Khan. “This is why it is so significant and crucial for us to have it available at our own show, in Geneva, so that we practice what we preach.”
NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen also added that business aviation continues to advocate for and take steps to grow SAF, which is a cornerstone of our climate strategy. “Today, there is more availability, production and supply than ever before. Almost daily, new collaborations and projects are boosting the production of these carbon-cutting fuels. SAF is our industry’s sustainable solution today as we innovate and create even more advanced technologies for tomorrow.”
Even when SAF is not available, other steps can be taken to reduce emissions, said Nick Houseman, Co-Owner of ElitAvia, one of Europe’s largest mixed fleet business aircraft operators. Operators can start simply by measuring emissions and planning routes carefully, so planes aren’t flying without passengers.
“In order for SAF to reach critical mass, unfortunately we are going to be reliant on government and air carriers to push that through the regulatory perspective,” predicted Dawit Lemma, Founder and CEO of aviation services company Dewit Lemma. “When that happens…it will reduce the cost of SAF. The numbers need to make sense for business, and airlines will drive the critical mass. At the end of the day, everyone wants to do good. There has to be an integrated approach.”
From an MRO point of view, Waleed K. Muhiddin, Director Business Development and Marketing at AMAC Aerospace, said his company works with suppliers to use recycled materials and natural materials for aircraft interiors. UAS International Trip Support Executive President Mohammed Al Husary said his organisation announced it will no longer charge fuel handling fees for those using SAF, but acknowledged it is not widely available.
SUSTAINABILITY’S MULTIPLE FORMS
The panel discussion forums at EBACE brought out an important point that while investing in new technology and sustainable initiatives is important, even more important is investing in people – ensuring there is a future business aviation workforce as the human talent is the most important resource that an organisation has.
The business aviation industry is riding high following the COVID-induced trough in 2020, but challenges related to sustainability – in multiple forms – are making for real headwinds. That was the message from WingX, JETNET iQ and Avinode analysts during an education session at the EBACE 2022 . Fuel prices and the environment pose one kind of sustainability challenge, but another is maintaining quality service when demand is at an all-time high. Then there is the workforce, both today’s post-pandemic workforce, and the workforce of the future.
“Business aviation was off by 70 per cent in April 2020, but by mid-2021 it was ahead. And, he said, “It’s not slowing down so far in 2022. Essentially what we’ve got it’s a cyclical rebound that was certainly accelerated by the pandemic, said Richard Koe, Managing Director of WingX, further warning that if there’s a slowdown it’s the newcomers to the industry who will be hurt the most.
“It was a really short-lived dip,” Avinode Group CEO Oliver King said of the COVID slowdown. Traffic bounced back quickly, especially in the US, and “thanks to the pandemic, a new set of buyers came into our industry.” King called the rebound “the biggest step-change” in industry history, but said the news isn’t all good. He described the surge in demand in Europe as “an avalanche,” but cautioned that the European market is smaller and far more seasonal than that of the United States, and is “a very hard market to operate in. We have volatility because high demand that pushes high prices is a market that can be subject to drops.
Economic growth is running at about three per cent, and three per cent on a sustained basis is a very good number. As for the aircraft market, we have super-hot demand, white-hot demand but supply chains are struggling, and manufacturers are facing workplace challenges, said Rolland Vincent of JETNET iQ. “The OEMs’ book-to-build ratios, he said, are not sustainable. Vincent also warned that extreme demand is hurting service. But even given these headwinds, “we’re still in a very good place,” he added.
According to data released recently by WingX Advance, worldwide, 358,448 business jet and turboprop sectors flew in the first 23 days of May 2022. Feedback from the renewed EBACE convention affirmed the industry’s record-breaking activity but also highlighted concerns that the market may be peaking. In the short term, demand is outstripping supply. In the longer terms, economic headwinds could shake out a significant portion of the industry’s recently gained new entrants.