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Winter 2019

issue 48

In its ill-fated election campaign, the UK’s Labour Party identified business aviation as a target for attention should it be elected into government. The shadow Secretary for Transport, Andy McDonald promised that labour would ‘consult with industry’ over plans to ban all business jets from UK airports from 2025. At current flying rates, such aircraft were judged to produce yearly carbon emissions equivalent to 450,000 cars on British roads.

The ban was judged not only as a carbon-saving measure, but also a means for encouraging the industry to develop electric aircraft more quickly, the perception being that too little was being done.

Characterising business aircraft as playthings for the wealthy, McDonald tweeted: “The multi-millionaires & billionaires who travel by private jet are doing profound damage to the climate, and it’s the rest of us who’ll suffer the consequences. A phase-out date for the use of fossil fuel private jets is a sensible proposal.”

The Labour Party’s campaigning proved humiliatingly unsuccessful, but its proposals for business aviation ought still to cause the industry to look carefully at itself.

There’s no doubt that carbon emissions ought to be at the top of this introspective list. Efforts to create more efficient engines, powering aerodynamically advanced airframes are laudable, but let’s not fool ourselves that the current low availability of sustainable alternative fuels is sufficient or, indeed, that sustainable fuel is a long-term solution. Let’s also acknowledge the reality of electric propulsion technology.

Labour identified the fact that only 15% of carbon emitted by the aviation industry in the UK might be eliminated by electric propulsion by 2050 at current rates of progress. Given the technological challenge and regulatory hurdles, that seems entirely reasonable. The industry will not replace fossil-fuel propulsion on a decade timescale. Let’s also consider how the electricity powering these new aircraft will be generated.

McDonald’s tweet provides strong evidence that the business aviation industry is failing to communicate its role clearly, if at all. The perception remains that business jets are only for the super-rich, zipping between holiday homes in search of sun or snow. Yes, HNWIs are vital to the industry, but a rare few use their aircraft only for holiday flying. They, in common with the corporate business jet fleet, generally employ their aircraft as business facilitators and that’s a message that just isn’t out there.

Turning to this, your winter edition of EVA, we recognise the great heritage upon which today’s industry is based, with a look at historic Teterboro and its FBOs, and the unique operations of Germany’s FAI. We also meet the pioneers pushing forward with technology that will improve safety and the flying experience, examining the Saab-Vū EFVS and GojiBox, both of them unique boxes of magic in their own high-tech way.

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Take A Peek

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    30 Years and Still Flying

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