Air transport, which has existed for more than 100 years, is responsible for 3% of global CO2 emissions. Although aircraft are infinitely more efficient (80%) than in the 1960s, the United Nations' Sustainable Development targets call for a reduction in emissions by half by 2050, a figure that airlines have accepted and are even seeking to improve. In fact, the European Climate Act aims to achieve a carbon-neutral European Union - zero net emissions of greenhouse gases - by that date. And experts are confident that aircraft will be 100% electric in 20 years.

A study carried out by the University of East Anglia (UK) and published in the journal Nature Climate Change, states that during the months of confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, emissions in Spain were reduced by up to 10% due to the paralysis of the aviation sector. While countries are now facing a de-escalation or a return to the 'new normal' after months of confinement, key industry player Dassault Systèmes shares what it believes are the main trends in the aerospace and defence sector to be more sustainable in the coming years:
Airlines and shipping companies must reduce their emissions with more efficient engines and fuels, and therefore seek greater investment in R&D and the development of new fuels. So far, aeroplanes can use 50% of new sustainable fuels, mixed with paraffin of fossil origin, but research is being carried out on the biofuel of the future, which will allow companies to use these organic sources, which are currently very expensive.
The increased environmental awareness of some citizens, fostered by the enjoyment of clean landscapes during confinement, has made it easier for airlines to stop operating large aircraft and to bring their fleet into line with more modern and competitive ones, which will reduce their environmental footprint considerably. These will be smaller and more efficient, have lower fuel consumption and produce less noise.
To offset the emissions they produce, some companies support reforestation, develop renewable energy or reduce and limit the production of waste on flights, for example by replacing non-recyclable packaging for food packs or avoiding printing unnecessary copies on paper. These clean energies can also be used in facilities, such as airports or factories, to contribute to sustainability.
Airports like Copenhagen, for example, are making use of cutting-edge digital technologies to provide the best user experience, while at the same time seeking to meet stringent technical and sustainable requirements. Technologies such as virtual twins can help create an identical replica of the airport, with all its facilities, services and users, to plan around different scenarios and simulate ideas before applying them in the real world. Virtual twins can increase productivity, cost and operational efficiency and help to efficiently manage air traffic and optimise routes, reducing emissions.
All kinds of companies are using digital technologies to create new categories of sustainable air mobility. A clear example is the Israeli startup Eviation Aircraft, which is making use of the industrial solution 'Reinvent the Sky' from the 3DEXPERIENCE cloud platform by Dassault Systèmes. The company is a pioneer in electric air mobility, having developed in just two years the first prototype of Alice, its 100% electric, zero-emission regional aircraft, which already has customers in the United States. Thanks to this solution, Eviation Aircraft has been able to work in the field of 3D and simulation to achieve smooth collaboration between all its departments. Once commercialised, its aircraft will be capable of carrying up to 9 passengers and 2 crew members in a cabin for 1045 km at an altitude of more than 3000 metres.
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