Through sometimes very vertical roundtables, the common thread of the Arab Aviation Summit, which took place in the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, was the decarbonization movement of air transport.
Air transport : from safety to sustainability
"The last three years have shown the resilience of air travel, but they have also been a great time of learning " says Adel Al Ali, founder and chairman of low-cost airline Air Arabia. "The year 2023 looks positive for tourism and air transport. But we must now act in a sustainable way. It is our responsibility to future generations. "The stakes for air transport have changed over time. For a long time, safety was a major issue. Today, it has become a given, something very normal. But to get to this point, all the players in the air transport industry have worked hard. Today, the issue is sustainability and we have to work as much as possible to succeed " emphasizes the president of Air Arabia.
Taxing petroleum companies benefits to finance technologies
Specially since the path is not easy. Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) alone raise the issues of their price and availability. " We recently delivered an A321neo to Egyptair. The fuel blend contained 34 percent SAF. We can use more, because we are allowed to use up to 50%. This was not possible due to a lack of available SAF," says Mikail Houari, president of Airbus' Middle East and Africa region. "To accelerate, the G7 and G20 countries should invest in the subject and impose the production of SAF," says Aradhana Khowala, Chair of the Global Advisory Board of the Red Sea Global megaproject launched in Saudi Arabia. And Aradhana Khowala does not hesitate to go further: " a percentage should be taken from the profits of oil companies. These sums would allow to finance technological developments in favor of the decarbonized aircraft ".
Zero Avia and Heart Aerospace
A proposal that could only seduce these startups launched on the subject that are Zero Avia and Heart Aerospace or the company Vports that designs vertiports " turnkey " for future operators of eVTOL or ADAve. Companies present at the Arab Aviation Forum. Zero Avia is developing a fuel cell powertrain for 40 to 80 seat aircraft, as well as for a range of rotorcraft and rotary wing applications. This new generation of fuel cells may also be sufficient to enable electric propulsion systems for single-aisle turbine aircraft with more than 100 seats, such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. Heart Aerospace, meanwhile, is working on a 30-passenger capacity regional electric aircraft, the ES-30, and powered by battery-powered electric motors. It replaces the company's previous 19-seat model, the ES-19.
Decarbonized aircraft do indeed require substantial investments. And they are inevitable. " We should not believe that the awareness of sustainability is limited to certain parts of the world. It is global " emphasizes Aradhana Khowala.
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