Future of Aviation Industry - Radical Change

Written by

Futurist Keynote Speaker: Posts, Slides, Videos - Future of Travel, Transport, Aviation, Tourism

Rate This Article

Future of Aviation and Airlines – articles, videos and presentations on the future of aviation, airlines, travel and tourism by Futurist conference keynote speaker Patrick Dixon.  His clients include Air France, KLM, EADS / Airbus, Virgin Atlantic, Dassault Falcon.

Future of  Aviation and Airlines: The travel and hospitality industries are amongst the most vulnerable to global or local shocks.  That means contingencies, cash reserves, hedging of major risks such as oil prices.  But most of all it means agile and bold leadership who think ahead, with more than one strategy depending on how events unfold.

Airline manufacturers and airlines themselves will continue to exploit significant energy savings over the next 20 years from a wide range of new technologies, including better airline engine design, lighter composite fuselage, more direct aircraft routing.  Efficiencies will also be gained from fuller planes, faster turnaround, economies of scale (consolidation of smaller airlines).  For more on greener aviation, see below.

Passengers will segment further into budget (bus quality), premium budget (especially older travelers), traditional economy, right up to premier business class in the largest long haul routes. 

Despite energy price rises, our world’s population will continue to want to fly, and will sacrifice other spending to do so, cushioning the adjustment for the airline industry.

Burning food in plane engines will become very controversial – as it connects energy and food prices, with potentially disastrous consequences for the poorest citizens around the globe.

Most planes will continue to burn carbon-based fuel for decades to come – because the average life expectancy of a new plane today is at least 30 years.

Need a world-class aviation keynote speaker? Phone Patrick Dixon now or email.

Issues in Aviation, Airlines, Travel and Tourism: the primary focus of every travel company must be the customer – experience, convenience, quality and perceived value for money.

Strategy for Aviation and Airlines: be flexible, with many contingencies and alternative strategies in place so that when sudden events happen (the aviation world can change globally in less than an hour), management are well-prepared.

Greatest risk for Aviation and Airlines: complacency, assuming that life will return to normal after the “ storm” has passed/

Greatest  opportunity for Aviation and Airlines: to offer wonderful experience in an imaginative but very efficient way.  It’s all to do with attitude.

Book Patrick Dixon as a conference speaker / discuss your event on the future of the aviation, airlines, travel and tourism industries.

Future of Air Travel - Sustainable Flying (?)

Aviation is fastest growing cause of emissions. Flying causes 3.5% of global CO2 emissions, and this will jump to more than 15% by 2050 unless action is taken. Emissions from flying doubled from 1990 to 2004, will and aviation is now the fastest growing cause of global warming.  

UK air passengers jumped from 4 to 228 million a year from 1954 to 2005.  5% of EU emissions are from planes, increasing by 1-2% every 12 months. 

Planes also affect the earth in other ways:  satellites show that clouds from a single jet can reduce sunshine over an area of 20,000 square miles at a time.  Soot and water vapour from aviation triggers more cloud formation, and on busy flight paths, sunlight can be cut by 10% - globally around 1%.   Clouds reflect light back into space but also insulate the earth and the net effect is warming – equal perhaps to an additional 1.5% of global CO2 emissions.

Flying can use less energy than driving if the plane is at least 80% full, journeys are longer than 400 miles, and the average number of people in the car is 1.4 or less.  It depends on the plane design, car engine and other factors. 

We also need to add an amount for aviation industry energy use in building and maintaining airport runways and passenger terminals, compared to motorways and urban roads.

Increasing fuel efficiency

The aviation industry is under intense pressure to reduce carbon use, mainly because up to 40% of their costs is buying fuel, even though aviation fuel is untaxed. Flying has a huge (unfair) tax advantage over road travel in countries like the UK where more than 80% of petrol prices can be tax.  Expect aviation charges of some kind in any new global agreements on carbon use.

Expect airline efficiency to improve every year by 1.5% across the industry until 2020, and  carbon-neutral growth after that.  New planes are 70% more efficient than 40 years ago and 20% better than 10 years ago.   Expect further 25% energy saving by 2025 for new planes – less than 3 litres of fuel per passenger per 100km flown, which is less than a small car in 2010. 

One challenge in improving efficiency of planes is the very long service life of aircraft.  Many planes flying today are already 30 years old, and most new planes sold in 2010 will still be flying in 2040.  Airbus expects to deliver 25,000 new aircraft worth $3.1 trillion over the next 20 years – but this will still only be a small fraction of the global total.  Planes sold from 2010-20 may only contribute 1% of aircraft miles flown by 2020 .

Replacing old planes is certainly an effective strategy for an individual airline. Alaska Airlines will save 18% of fuel by replacing MD-80 planes with 737-800s.  But what happens to the old planes?  Aviation history shows they usually land up being sold to less wealthy airlines in emerging nations – so continuing their inefficient working lives.   So what can be done about these older planes?  Fuel use in aviation can easily be reduced by adding pointed wing tips to improve air flow, saving from 7% in Learjets to 3.5% in Jumbos (Boeing 747s).  Some can also be fitted with better engines.

Expect fuel economy also to be improved by:

•    Fuller plane occupancy – almost all weight in a large plane is the plane itself plus fuel, so the cost of extra passengers is marginal.  An empty 747-400 weighs around 340,000 pounds, or 800,000 when fully loaded on take-off  – but only 250,000 of those extra pounds is actual passengers or cargo. Almost all the rest is aviation fuel. 

•    Better air traffic control, including more direct air routes which can reduce aviation emissions by up to 18% on short-haul flights, especially into congested airports like Heathrow.  UK air traffic control is aiming for a 10% cut in CO2 per flight by 2020 with better aircraft routing.  Europe and the US are upgrading their entire air traffic systems to save energy.

•    Flying more slowly – best with larger, narrow aircraft wings.  Every aircraft design is a compromise, with wings optimised for the speed that the aircraft is expected to fly at, most of the time.

•    Steeper landing paths – the more time the plane spends at higher altitudes, where air is thinner, the less air resistance and less aviation fuel used. 

•    Increased use of turboprop aircraft for shorter distances (better fuel use, partly as planes optimised to spend more time flying at slower speed).

•    Reduction in plane vapour trails – Detection, dynamic avoidance (altitude corrections), lower altitude long- and short- haul flights.   That means new in-flight technologies, new traffic control systems, but lower altitude can also increase fuel use, so fine adjustments are best.

Flying on biofuels – added pressure on food prices?

A 50% blend of biofuel and kerosene is likely to be approved in the US soon.  Converting jet engines to use pure biofuel will be costly unless they are a perfect match for kerosene aviation fuel.  And there will be pressure to make sure that planes are not burning food, forcing up food prices. If planes start using a limited supply of biofuels, it will mean less is available to burn in cars and trucks so there will be no “green” advantage.

Aircraft are the only form of transport apart from ships which will have to go on using carbon-based fuels for the next 30- 40 years.  Batteries are too heavy for commercial aircraft, solar cells too feeble, and fuels like hydrogen are too bulky and provide too little energy to be useful in planes.

Planes are like ships in one respect:  they cannot refuel during their journeys, which are often many thousands of miles. Therefore they are very dependent on being able to store the maximum amount of energy in a small space.

Text above adapted from SustainAgility – book.

See also Aviation Trends and Energy Efficiency

Lectures on Future of Aviation, Air Travel etc

Future of the Aviation Industry - client event for Dassault Falcon, attended by 800 pilots and aviation specialists at NBAA in Atlanta. Covers major trends affecting airlines, charter companie and privately owned planes, plane manufacturers and related industries

Future of tourism, travel industry and hospitality sector - leisure and business trends. For Portuguese Tourist Board - impact on Portugal and wider region.

Future of Travel and Tourism - impact on North West England economy - Blackpool, Manchester, Liverpool, Chester and the Lake District. Consumer trends. Business travel and the future patterns of corporate events. Impact of ageing and emerging markets. Client event for Northwest Development Agency.

The Future of Air Travel, Air Freight and Tourism - for Executive Board of Virgin Atlantic looking at a wide range of issues that are likely to shape airlines, business and personal travel and related expenditure. What will be the shape of airlines in future? How will airlines adapt to market pressures in a deregulated world which is increasingly dominated by short distance budget operators? (Some slides have been removed).

Future of bus and rail companies - impact of climate change - keynote conference presentation for Stagecoach - global leadership team and board.

Need a world-class aviation keynote speaker? Phone Patrick Dixon now or email.

More Videos on Future of Aviation and Travel Industries

Search now

Related news items:
Newer news items:

Thanks for promoting with Facebook LIKE or Tweet. Really interested to hear your views. Post below.

October 16, 2015 - 18:52


sanjeev lihala
May 13, 2015 - 04:54

Till how long aviation industry will bleed.

Join the Debate! What are your own views?