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Hamburg University of Applied Sciences Wins the Green Aviation Student Challenge 2021

No time? Watch the Short Introduction to the Ecolabel for Aircraft (72 seconds).

Boeing 747-400 operated by Lufthansa Daan Hurtecant with his Master Thesis "Launch of an Ecolabel for Passenger Aircraft" was named the winner of the Green Aviation Student Challenge 2021 on 28th October 2021 in a ceremony at Hotel Hafen Hamburg. The Master Thesis is so far the last in a string of final theses and projects supervised by Prof. Dr. Dieter Scholz at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. Work on the "Ecolabel for Aircraft" started already in 2015.

The "Ecolable for Aircraft" shows a rating for an aircraft with its engine type and seat layout. Based on this rating, passengers can select the most eco-friendly single flight. Furthermore, it is possible to determine the most eco-friendly flight between origin and destination that consists of no, one, or more intermediate stops. It is also possible to determine a score for the environmental performance of an airline. The metric is defined such that also a comparison with other modes of transport is possible. More details on this page.

Since 2020, the "Green Aviation Student Challenge" is part of the "Hamburg Aviation Young Talent Prize". It promotes young talents with innovative ideas for a "green aviation".

With the "Green Aviation Student Challenge" the jury of the Hamburg Aviation Young Talent Prize honors future-oriented ideas that could make flying "greener". Light materials, materials of natural origin, cradle-to-cradle approaches – the range of impulses is broad and the importance is equally high, because the aviation industry has to rethink.

The "Green Aviation Student Challenge", is endowed with 800 EUR and is bestowed with the kind support of Krüger Aviation. The family company from Barsbüttel (east of Hamburg) is a pioneer and world market leader in the manufacture of plastic components for aircraft cabins. Nils Stoll, CEO of Krüger Aviation GmbH, can be seen in this video handing out the award to Daan Hurtecant.

The "Hamburg Aviation Young Talent Prize" was established by Hamburg Aviation to foster talented young people with innovative ideas in northern Germany’s aviation industry. This plays a long-term role in maintaining the competitiveness of the Hamburg Metropolitan Region as a centre of aviation and keeping well-qualified academics here.

Participants can look forward to the very best networking opportunities within the aviation cluster as they come into direct contact with member companies. Hamburg Aviation thus supports young professionals as they make the move from academic training to career.

The Hamburg Aviation Young Talent Prize is presented annually in the categories "Bachelor", "Master", and "Green Aviation" with the support of Airbus, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation (BWVI), the Hamburg Centre of Aviation Training Lab (HCAT+), Hanse Aerospace e.V., HECAS, Krüger Aviation and TREO. It has one prize for the best Bachelor Thesis, a second prize for the best Master Thesis, and a special prize for a final thesis in "Green Aviation".

Hamburg Aviation is working for the aviation industry in the metropolitan region of Hamburg: Airbus, Lufthansa Technik, Hamburg Airport and more than 300 other companies with a total of over 40,000 highly qualified employees. Together they cover the complete life cycle of an aircraft and the entire value chain of aviation.



Purpose – Introducing an ecolabel for aircraft according to the ISO 14025 standard. The ecolabel gives a rating for an aircraft with its engine type and seat layout. Based on this rating, passengers can select the most eco-friendly single flight. Furthermore, it is possible to determine the most eco-friendly flight between origin and destination that consists of no, one, or more intermediate stops. It is also possible to determine a score for the environmental performance of an airline. The metric is defined such that also a comparison with other modes of transport is possible.

Lufthansa Web Page
How does Lufthansa define "environmentally compatible"? We could define "environmentally compatible" for a score of "A" or "B" (Overall Rating above 6.81) in the "Ecolabel for Aircraft". Lufthansa's B747-400 scores "F" (Overall Rating 4.95, for layout 1 with 393 seats) – see above. This would disqualify Lufthansa's B747-400 as "environmentally compatible"! Note, on Lufthansa's fleet page, the B747-400 is given for layout 2 with only 371 seats. This gives even worse results per seat. Much better, Lufthansa scores "A" with the A320neo. See the ecolabel below. – – – Lufthansa fleet pages were archived with all sub-pages on 2021-10-31 at This shows the B747-400 in Lufthansa's fleet.
Methodology – The ecolabel considers resource depletion (fuel consumption), global warming (equivalent CO2 emission, including altitude-dependent NOX and aviation induced cloudiness), local air quality (NOX), and finally, noise pollution. The emissions of each impact category are normalized against a group of reference aircraft that account for over 95% of the number of passenger aircraft flying today. Based on the results from a life cycle assessment (LCA), the named impact categories are weighted 20%, 40%, 20%, and 20%, respectively. The four impact categories are combined into one overall rating and a score from A to G. Seating arrangements in different travel classes are considered based on the cabin floor area occupied by each passenger. Data sources are the aircraft manufacturer's documents for airport planning, the aviation emission calculator from EMEP/EEA air pollutant emission inventory guidebook 2019, the ICAO Aircraft Engine Emissions Databank, the EASA Certification Noise Levels Database, and the SeatGuru seat map database. All information used is available in public.

Findings – Over 160 ecolabels are calculated so far and show the usefulness of the concept. General conclusions were drawn about the parameters that yield environmentally friendly air travel.

Research Limitations – In order to compare flights with stopovers, available flight options have to be known. For this reason, the algorithm should at best be connected with a ticket booking systems, which would then offer an easy comparison based on the ecolabel approach.

Practical Implications – Passengers understand that they should select a flight on the shortest possible route and select the best combination of aircraft and airline based on the ecolabel. Airlines that operate a modern fleet, have tight seating in a single (economy) class, and are known for their high load factor, are better for the environment. Obviously, a ticket in the economy class should be booked if the cabin features more than one class.

Social Implications – The ecolabel gives a foundation for a general discussion about different travel options based on neutral scientific methods and data.

Originality – So far, an ecolabel has not been defined and applied to this level of detail and scientific rigor.



Theses and Projects Supporting the "Ecolabel for Aircraft"
Author Title Type of Work Date of Work Landing Page
Task Results Size Data Size Library / Archive
Daan Hurtecant Launch of an Ecolabel for Passenger Aircraft Master Thesis 26.05.21 Abstract *.pdf *.pdf  6.4M *.zip   17M  
Alejandro Ridao Velasco Environmental Information for Aviation Passengers Bachelor Thesis 05.08.20     *.pdf   17M      
Sophie Sokour, Tobias Bähr Calculating and Comparing Ecolabels for Popular Passenger Aircraft Project 08.05.18     *.pdf  1.7M      
Lynn Van Endert Definition of an Ecolabel for Aircraft Master Thesis 10.09.17     *.pdf  4.3M      
Tim Haß Developing an Ecolabel for Aircraft Bachelor Thesis 05.08.15     *.pdf  2.0M      



The "Ecolabel for Aircraft" is based on the combination of aircraft type, engine type, and seating configuration. This gives so many combinations that it is impossible to have all ecolabels available on this site. For this reason it is planned to offer user-friendly tools, with which interested travelers can calculate the required "Ecolabel for Aircraft" exactly for the airplane in question. Alternatively, the airline could provide the ecolabel for each flight together with the check-in documents. These are the tools:
  1. Ecolabel Calculator (the main tool)

    This is the main tool. It holds several public databases and performs the ecolabel calculation on them. Numerical results from ecolabels once calculated are stored in the tool. This enables easy retrieval of the data once needed again. New ecolabels can be calculated with maximum comfort with automatic retrieval of data from the databases. This automation is not a trivial task and requires professional spreadsheet programming. Due to its complexity, the tool is not yet ready for public use.

    Ecolabel Calculator

  2. Trip Emission Ecolabel (averaging type) and Trip Emission Ecolabel (summation type)

    Download these spreadsheets from the Data-Zip-File given along with the Master Thesis of Daan Hurtecant (see above).

    Note: The Trip Emission Ecolabel (TEE) calculation requires the ecolabels (from the Ecolabel Calculator) as input data. Certainly, calculations can also be based on ecolabels given below.

    The "averaging type" calculator is averaging fuel consumption, equivalent CO2, local noise level, and local air pollution from one, two, three, or four flights.

    The "summation type" calculator is adding up fuel consumption, equivalent CO2, local noise level, and local air pollution and sets it in relation to the values from a standard flight (defined as 2400 km flown with a Boeing 737-800). This can be done for one, two, three, or four flights. The longer the total flight, the worse the score. Noise and local air pollution add up with every take-off and landing (i.e. with each flight). For this reason, it tends to be better for the environment to reach the final destination in a single flight.

    Ecolabel Calculator

    Here is the example of an ecolable for the above case (summation type TEE, one stop):
    Trip Emission Ecolabel (TEE), summation type TEE, one stop

The number of combinations is much smaller, if we only look at a particular aircraft type with the most used engine (in case the aircraft is offered with more than one engine option) and the standard seat layout published by the aircraft manufacturer. Such "Ecolabels for Aircraft" are given below.



Logo der Pressebox item SCHOLZ, Dieter: Auszeichnung einer Masterarbeit zum Ökolabel für Flugzeuge. Pressemitteilung, Hamburg, 01.10.2021. – Available from:

*.pdf AERO_PR_EcolabelForAircraft_21-11-01.pdf     Size:  872K

Hamburg Aerospace Lecture Series item Presentation in the Hamburg Aerospace Lecture Series, Hamburg/Online, 04.06.2020:

SCHOLZ, Dieter: Ecolabel for Aircraft – Definition and Application (Hamburg Aerospace Lecture Series, Hamburg/Online, 04.06.2020). Presentation, 2020 – Available from:

*.pdf text_2020_06_04_EcoLableForAircraft.pdf     Size:  8.2M

DGLR item Presentation at Deutscher Luft- und Raumfahrt Kongress, München, 05.09 - 07.09 2017:

SCHOLZ, Dieter: An Ecolabel for Aircraft (Deutscher Luft- und Raumfahrtkongress, München, 05.09 - 07.09 2017). Presentation, 2017 – Available from: See also in DGLR-Database:[document_id]=450316.

*.pdf AERO_PRE_DLRK2017_Ecolabel_17-09-05.pdf     Size:  2.0M



Airbus A320neo operated by Lufthansa So far ecolabels of more than 160 combinations of aircraft / engine / seat layout have been calculated. Only a selection is given here on this page.

Shown here are ecolabels for selected aircraft types with the standards seat layout as published by the aircraft manufacturer. A typical engine used on this aircraft is indicated on the ecolabel. In case the aircraft is offered with more than one engine type, there is no mention of other engines on this aircraft type in the ecolabel. With respect to the NOx emissions, the ecolabel is calculated with an average value derived from all engines offered for this aircraft type. Different engine options for one aircraft type may show quite a variation in NOx. Using an average value gives a better representation of the aircraft than by selecting one engine type arbitrarily.

A list of aircraft and their ecolabel results is given here:
*.pdf Comparison_of_Aircraft.pdf
The file contains three tables that show the results in different order:
=> Comparison of Aircraft, alphabetical
=> Comparison of Aircraft, rating: highest to lowest
=> Comparison of Aircraft, usage: highest to lowest

A weighted average rating is calculated for the world fleet of passenger aircraft (based on about 78% of the number of aircraft flying): 0.2569. This is a "B" on the rating scale. This (quite good) world fleet rating can be explained by the rating of the most used aircraft types:
=> Boeing 737-800: C
=> Airbus A319/A320/A321: B
=> Airbus A320neo: A

Please find a selection of ecolabels in alphabetical order. All ecolabels are given from the list "Comparison of Aircraft, usage: highest to lowest" (see above) plus a few more.

The aircraft type is given above each ecolabel (in the HTML). In this way it is possible to use the search function from the browser to locate the ecolabel in question. It is intended to provide short links to the ecolabels to give them an intuitive persistent URL. Here is the first example:

Each ecolabel shows a QR-Code, which leads to It shows a one-page info graphic for passengers explaining the metrics of the ecolabel. Please click and have a look!



A220 / A319

A320 / A320neo

A321 / A321neo

A330 / A340

A340 / A350




ATR 42 / ATR 72



717 / 737


737 MAX / 757

767 / 777

777 / 787




CRJ100 / CRJ900



E175 / ERJ-145



Superjet 100


LAST MODIFIED:  05 November 2021
AUTHOR:  Prof. Dr. Scholz

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