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It is possible to realize sustainability in the aviation industry. Therefore, I agree with the statement that sustainable aviation is a simple oxymoron. I believe it is possible to have the term sustainability and aviation in the same context. Like any other form of public mass transport that depends on the limited earthly resources, aviation industry can ensure long-term prosperity through sustainability. The aviation companies are taking every opportunity to reduce the negative impacts by investing in adequate training, research, education, and awareness. To further guarantee the sustainability of the aviation industry, the players in the sector are avoiding the conflicting regulations and policies, while efficiently maximizing the available capacity. With all these efforts in place, this paper argues that sustainable aviation is achievable. This paper will first define as to why sustainable aviation is a simple oxymoron, then it will discuss the economic, social and environmental impacts of aviation as well as the measures that have been enunciated to see the industry sustainable, and a wrap up of the main arguments in the conclusion.
Sustainable aviation is considered to be a long-term plan that defines the collective approach of the aviation industry to help in tackling current problems encountered in the industry, thus, yielding profits with the available resources, and without compromising the well-being of the future generation (Budd, Griggs and Howarth 2013, p. 1). Aviation sustainability focuses on bringing together of the major airlines, airports, manufacturers and air navigators service providers across the various countries in the world. Intrinsically, the aviation industry is very much committed to delivering a sustainable future (Walker and Cook 2009, p. 381). Most aviation companies are focused on getting collaborative approaches of enhancing environmental performance and establishing a balanced debate to facilitate the sustainable growth of this industry. Specifically, the aviation companies have continued to promote principles of their strategies both nationally and internationally. To make sustainable aviation realistic, most of the companies have set out a range of objectives and commitments, touching on climate change, noise and local air quality, in the need boost a sustainable future for the industry (Doron nd, p. 11).
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The aviation industry plays a vital role in the world economy. It contributes significantly towards the world business operations, production, export, and employment. The industry links a country to a global economy. It helps to provide significant opportunities for tourism and travel. Likewise, it assists in connecting firms to the more significant potential sales market, to more substantial investment opportunities, and to more supply chain. For instance, in 2011, the aviation sector transported 47 million tons of freight and 2.8 billion of passengers (IATA 2012, np). The aviation industry also helps in boosting productivity levels, to enhance the national economy. For example, in the UK, the aviation industry contributed £11.4 billion in the year 2004 (Great Britain 2007, p. 356). As such, it assisted in generating income to the annual economic activity and led to the creation of jobs. It has been observed that an average air transport employee create a gross value added of $105300 (IATA 2012, np). Thus, it is believed that this industry enhances the economic efficiency and growth.
The greater economic return based on sustainable aviation must not be ignored; representing the additional economic value of the air transport that will be lost if the future sustainability is prevented or constrained. The players in the aviation industry are well aware of the fact that all these benefits may be lost if the viability of the industry cannot be guaranteed (Dahmus 2014, p. 889). This is the reason as to why there are very many measures put in place to ensure that the sustainability of the industry is feasible. Nonetheless, the introduction of the fuel-efficient aircrafts will help in the lessening of the impact of the fuel increase. This will assist, especially, the developing nations to maintain similar levels of mobility, hence providing social benefits to countries through maintenance of their GDP.
Sustainability in the aviation industry has contributed immensely on the global economy at large. The industry is slowly transitioning the world to a green economy. To achieve this objective, many airlines have developed unilateral environmental guidelines policy and rules that aid in ensuring that environmental goals are met and there is a global harmonized effort to preserve the ecosystem (Abeyratne 2014, p. 108). On job creation, Whitelegg (2000) posits that in the United Kingdom alone, sustainable aviation has created approximately 200,000 direct job opportunities and 500,000 indirect jobs. Likewise, as a result of increased cost of fuel, research and innovation in the industry has seen it overcoming hard economic epochs. Intrinsically, many airline industries are now keen on cost saving as a way to ensure sustainability in the sector. This move has led to the commitment of many airlines to upgrade their airplanes to accommodate the new fuel-efficient planes. For example, the American airlines have made an order for a $38 billion of 460 narrow bodies, single-aisle airplanes. This is a shift from the traditional Airbus A230 and the Boeing 737 (Mousavi and Bossink 2017, p. 1268). The cost-efficient airplanes will not only save the cost of purchasing fuel for the airlines, but will also emit approximately 286,000 fewer tons of carbon in the atmosphere compared to the traditional airplanes (Vyas, Patel and Bertram 2013, p. 61). Given the willingness and the efforts shown towards attaining a sustainable aviation, I believe sustainable aviation is a possibility.
Efforts are in place to produce a new design of planes that reduces the effects of harm on humans and the environment. Traveling passengers are often susceptible to contagious diseases as a result of low humidity and close quarters on the aircraft, which makes their natural resistance mechanism provided by mucus to dry up. However, the newly designed efficient planes have higher humidity interior that helps in reducing the risk of illness when traveling. Apart from the diseases, passengers are also at a higher risk of developing ear problem due to noise pollution. The decrease in noise pollution will help to lessen the adverse effects that happen on human health as a result of noise pollution, such as sleep disturbance, hypertension, and hearing loss (Schaltegger, Burritt and Petersen 2017, p. 111). Innately, the fact that these efforts are being pursued leads us to the conclusion that sustainable aviation is a reality.
The introduction of the new fuel-efficient airplanes has the capability of improving many challenges that face the aviation industry. From the social point of view, it has potential benefits. Nevertheless, the introduction of new fuel-efficient planes will positively affect the environment and price adjustments without decreasing the quality of air services. This in itself is a move towards attaining a sustainable aviation. The new fuel-efficient aircrafts have been designed in such a way that they reduce the noise pollution experienced by passengers. As a result, the newly developed planes have helped to promote a cleaner environment, which has benefitted the society globally. They have also contributed to reducing the carbon emission (Peeters, Gossling and Becken 2010, p. 187). The reduction of carbon emission will help to decrease the effect of climate change (Upham, Tomei and Boucher 2009, p. 312). This will, consequently assist to diminish the negative environmental and social determinants of health such as safe drinking water, clean air, and proper shelter. Moreover, fuel-efficient aircrafts ensure emission of less ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and sulphur, which helps in reduction of emission-related sickness such lung disease, cancer and respiratory illness (Kivits, Charles and Ryan 2010, p. 206). Intrinsically, the introduction of the new fuel-efficient planes is a step towards achieving sustainability in the aviation sector. As Pourdehnad and Smith (2012, p. 84) put it, much can be learnt from the aviation sector in attempting to address sustainability.
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In case new fuel-efficient aircrafts are introduced for travel, then carbon emission will be drastically reduced and would help in sustainable improvement of the environment. Besides, some steps have been taken to come up with more efficient flight planes that would make a shorter route, thus, reducing the carbon emission (Daley, Dimitriou and Thomas 2008). The reduction of the carbon emission in the environment would per se slow down the dramatic change in climate. This, in turn, would assist in the decline of the ecosystem, which often happens due to rising earth surface temperature, hence, preserve a variety of ecosystem that human society depends on such as food, clean air, and purified water (Pearson and Merkert 2014, p. 25). Also, the destruction of the animal mortality and wildlife habitats will decrease as a result of a reduction of noise pollution. Plans to reduce noise pollution is a plan to have a sustainable aviation industry.
Sustainability in the aviation industry, more significantly, ascertains that the industry is responsible for conserving the environment and creating initiatives that will lead to a reduction of pollution, which leads to climate change (Krut and Gleckman 2013, p. 79). Many airlines, aviation manufacturers, and airline service providers have developed considerable efforts to reduce the number of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. For example, they have stopped using fossil fuels and introduced biofuels that contain 80% fewer carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Introduction of biofuels also leads to conservation of other natural resources, thus, preventing wastage that could lead to depletion. Sustainability also ensures that the passengers and residents in the world do not suffer from health complications caused by air pollution.
Over the recent years, concerns about climate change and greenhouse harmful gas emissions continuously increase. The aviation industry is part of the main contributors to the problems with the climate change due to carbon emissions. Also, many aircrafts produce a lot of noise. Hence, sustainability in the aviation industry has led to the realization that there is need to conserve the environment. Through sustainability concepts, there has been the adoption of strategies of testing cleaner fuels by most airlines to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere (Mousavi and Bossink 2017, p. 1271). For example, the British Airways and Virgin Airways conduct a pre-test of their fuels before use, to check on their limpidness and safety. The sustainable aviation programme has also set aside 25 million Euros allocated for the construction of a demonstration-scale an advanced biofuel in the United Kingdom. This demonstration scale is responsible for the manufacture of fuel that is low in carbon emissions and safe for use in the aviation industry. The Rolls-Royce Company recently manufactured CTi engines. The engines contain a combination of titanium and carbon, thus, reducing carbon emissions through a complete cut of fuel burning (Parker and Fedder 2016, p. 138). This concept is necessary for the aviation industry as it has led to a considerable effort from many airline services, manufactures, and fuel providers to establish measures that will lead to the conservation of the natural resources and eradication of carbon-emitting fuels.
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The growth of aviation industry has had both the local and global impacts, thus, creating serious challenges that must be solved. The solutions to these problems can only be found through the establishment of aviation sustainability strategies to reduce social, economic and environment negative impact of this industry. Therefore, sustainability and aviation need not only to be mentioned in the same sentence but also work concurrently to provide innovative and long-term solutions to economic, social and environmental issues in the world today.
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