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The inspiration for a made-to-order business jet refurbishment is collaborative creativity, while the slimmer bottom line reflects the introduction of clever pre-fab components.

Sustainable opportunities for business aviation

By Skies Magazine | October 24, 2019

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 53 seconds.

At the NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), three aviation professionals with a background in sustainable options for aviation sat on a panel to discuss how the industry is moving forward in an environmentally conscious world.

The inspiration for a made-to-order business jet refurbishment is collaborative creativity, while the slimmer bottom line reflects the introduction of clever pre-fab components.
The panel believes that sustainable aviation technology will be on the market much sooner than many imagine. Flying Colours Photo

Bob Searles, managing editor of Business Aviation Insider moderated the panel that consisted of Paul Davy, director of Business Development at Port City Air, Scott Burgess, president of Eco-Aviation Foundation International, and Brice Nzeukou, product manager of Ampaire Inc.

The panelists discussed a wide variety of topics surrounding sustainability in the business aviation community including how far along sustainable technology is at this moment, operational costs of said technology and how regulatory bodies are approaching the shift to sustainable operations.

“In my opinion, looking back at the last 100 years of aviation, everything that you thought of, scrap it,” said Burgess. “What I’m predicting is a renaissance in aviation…its going to come because of the electrification of aircraft.”

Burgess’ Eco-Aviation Foundation spreads awareness about sustainable aircraft and the surrounding technologies through the use of a website, press releases and case studies.

“The technology is out there,” he continued. “They’re test flying it, it works, it’s coming up better as far as lower cost and being more reliable.”

Ampaire, the company that Nzeukou represented, is a testament of this. Recently, the company was able to successfully retrofit a Cessna 337 Skymaster with electronic components, and have marked the new hybrid-electric aircraft with a 200 mile range. Nzeukou believes that once companies notice the plausibility of the technology, the amount of hybrid-electric vehicles in the sky will only trend upwards.

“I used to live in Irvine, Calif. and I remember the first time I saw a Tesla, the next day I saw four more,” he said. “You never see a Tesla broken down, you only ever see cars with a combustion engine at the side of the road.”

Davy’s Port City Air, an airport in Portsmouth, N.H., said along with the aircraft moving into the future, the infrastructure needed to support the technology is coming along as well.

“The solar technology has really advanced…in 2019 we decided to look at what we could do to work in some sustainable ways to support the infrastructure,” said Davy.

Those actions included installing a solar farm to the roof of hangars, adopting smart grid technology and the installation of a 12,000-gallon sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) tank on the airport’s grounds.

The panel stressed the inevitability of these efforts, continually emphasizing that the switch to electronic aircraft will be widespread throughout the industry much quicker than many believe.

“There’s so much money on the table now, it’s a race,” stated Burgess. “Money has been flowing towards these technologies very rapidly.”

While profit is definitely a driving factor for the research and development of these new technologies, Burgess concluded that the overlying issue as to why we need sustainable technology is our current climate predicament.

“Imagine the dinosaurs knew when that astroid was going to hit and they could take precautions before the event,” he said. “Well this is coming whether you like it or not.”

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