Background to the 3-Liter-Aircraft   –   How Clean is Aviation?

Autor: Yik Lun Tan

Bachelor Thesis


According to IATA, air passengers will increase from 2.5 billion in 2009 to 3.3 billion by 2014. This indicates an increase of 32 % in air passengers by 2014, compared to the value of 2009. Despites of the increase number of air passengers, emissions of air transport are expected to be reduced in the future. This thesis contains a literature research about the fuel consumption and emissions of different type of aircraft. First of all, the visions of air transport in year 2020 and year 2050 are described in this thesis. The goals and aims set by Advisory Council of Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE), International Air Transport Association (IATA), Air Transport Association of America (ATA) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and their ways to achieving the aims and goals will be further discussed. The completed European programme, 6th Framework Programme and the on-going European programme, 7th Framework Programme by the European Commission, as well as the Clear Sky JTI will be investigated in this thesis. These programmes are aiming to achieve the goals of ACARE by year 2020. Furthermore, a further investigation on IATA’s four pillars strategy will be made. To cope with the increased awareness towards the environment, aircraft manufacturers (Airbus and Boeing) have also applied some of the latest technologies in their new generation aircraft or more specifically Airbus A380 and Boeing 787. Air transport contributes to 2 % of the total emissions in the world. The global and local impacts of these 2 % of emissions on the environment will be discussed, giving a clear view of how the aircraft emissions being harmful to human health, construction, agriculture and the Earth. Besides that, the energy consumption and the gaseous emissions per passenger kilometres (pkm) of air transport during operation will also be compared with road and rail transport. The emissions are broken down to identify and analyze the emissions of air, road and rail transport individually. During operation, air transport releases more greenhouse gases (GHG) than rail transport but lesser than road transport. Nitrous Oxide is the highest criteria air pollutant (CAP) gas released by air transport. Other CAP gases indicate a relatively low value compared to road and rail transport. Additionally, a life cycle assessment of air, road and rail transport has been made to give an overview of the energy consumption and emissions in the entire life cycle, from manufacture to disposal or recycle. Emissions during operation of aircraft contribute to the biggest portion, about 80 % of GHG emissions. The other components of life cycle inventory such as maintenance of aircraft and infrastructure, contribute to only about 20 % of the GHG emissions. Besides that, calculations based on Breguet range equation have been done to estimate the fuel consumption per pkm for turbofan aircraft and propeller aircraft during cruise. The first part of the calculations is based on maximum lift-to-drag ratio. The second part is based on the estimation of lift to drag ratio through the values obtained from Jane’s All the World's Aircraft. Moreover, this thesis also includes the effects of different load factors on the fuel consumption per pkm for short, medium and long haul flights. If the landing take-off (LTO) cycle is eliminated, short haul flights indicate the lowest fuel consumption per passenger kilometre (pkm) whereas long haul flights indicate the highest fuel consumption per pkm.