Before Covid, the outlook for aviation was optimistic, although already subject to ‘turbulence’ from climate change (the sector accounts for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions). Manufacturers are well aware of the urgent need to develop planes that address these challenges.
This requires technological breakthroughs such as hybrids, aircraft powered by hydrogen or energy distributed by blown wings, small autonomous aircraft for intercity travel, drone taxis, etc. These more virtuous models require huge R&D budgets, with commissioning expected by 2035. Public authorities have the option of partially funding these programmes, through organisations such as ONERA in France.
In the meantime, a transition can be achieved with synthetic fuels, based on clean hydrogen and CO2 injected into current engines with a few modifications (although there is still the problem of fuel needing to be stored at very low temperatures). The aeronautical sector is developing hydrogen partnerships with the rail and energy industries, while waiting for the shift to a new technological era.
Aeronautical consultant. President of “Aviation sans Frontières”
Airlines’ revenue in 2020: $328 billion (60% lower than 2019)
Annual number of passengers:
- 5 billion in 2019.
- 8 billion in 2020 (same level as in 2003).
- 6 billion expected by 2030.
Sources : www.iata.org