Sustainability Issues Faced By The Aviation Industries 

January 24, 2023 4 mins to read

In today’s world, the aviation industry is booming at a rapid speed. It is a big part of the world economy. Nearly half of the world’s population uses airplanes for transportation and shipments. But like other vehicles, airplane engines produce gasses, large noises, and particulates that raise environmental concerns over the globe. The aviation industry is one of the contributors that are affecting the environment.  It causes Air pollution, noise pollution, and other environmental issues. 

How aviation industry contributes to Air Pollution?

Aircraft, trucks, cars, and other vehicles that operate at airports emit gasses from the combustion of fuels. Engines of aircraft emit carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, contrails, and particulates. Between 1967 to 2007 airlines have become more fuel-efficient. Co2 emissions had become 47% more by 2018 than those of 1990.  As the aviation industry has become more fuel-efficient, emissions have risen as air travel has increased. This is an issue for the sustainability of the environment. 

Generally, 90% of aircraft emissions are emitted above 3000 feet altitude and 10% are emitted close to the surface of Earth. These emissions affect the ozone in the atmosphere. In the aviation industry, aircraft are not the only ones to emit harmful gasses, ground support vehicles burn fossil fuels and emit similar harmful emissions. The vehicles used for coming and going from the airport, the shuttle buses, vans serving passengers, and the ground support equipment that services aircraft are all included in this. Other sources that produce emissions at the airport are auxiliary power units that provide electricity and air conditioning to the aircraft parked at airports, construction instruments operation at airports, and stationary airport power sources. 

The emission of Nitrogen oxides from aircraft favor ozone formation. At upper altitudes, emissions of nitrogen oxides result in greater concentrations of O3 which have a greater global warming effect than the emission of nitrogen oxides at lower altitudes which affects the sustainability of the environment. 

How aviation industry contributes to Noise pollution? 

Aircraft and other aviation equipment cause noise pollution. The noise caused by this, can disturbance in sleep and it could also increase the cardiovascular risk for airport neighbors. 

How aviation industry contributes to Water Pollution? 

Due to the extensive use and handling of jet fuel, lubricants, and other chemicals airports can cause significant water pollution. Deicing fluids used to remove snow from runways can also cause water pollution. When these fluids fall on the ground, surface runoff can carry them to nearby rivers, streams, or coastal water. These have ethylene glycol and propylene glycol which exert a high level of oxygen demand and can consume oxygen from water that is essential for aquatic life. 

As a result of all of these issues faced because of the aviation industry, the sustainability of the environment has been affected negatively. But there are a few solutions for some of the issues. 

  • Companies are trying to switch to biofuels. It has been a difficult process and is facing some problems but it is a work in progress. These fuels will emit less harmful emissions reducing the negative effects on the environment in many ways. 
  • Higher bypass engines are used in aircraft for reducing noise pollution as they tend to be quieter than normal engines. 
  • The liquid hydrogen-powered aircraft concept was introduced in 2020 that can be brought to the aviation industry by 2035 to minimize the emission of harmful gases by aircraft. 

The increase in air transportation has led to increasing various environmental issues caused by it. Hence, these environmental issues like air, noise, and water pollution caused by both airplane and airport operations, should be dealt with soon, as it is very important for environmental sustainability. 

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