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Leading Edge: Commitment to change

As editor of Wings magazine, I am privy to an endless array of information that helps chronicle every major event in the aviation industry. Much of this material highlights key industry trends – issues that are highly relevant and worthy of further exploration.


July 10, 2012
By Stacy Bradshaw


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As editor of Wings magazine, I am privy to an endless array of information that helps chronicle every major event in the aviation industry. Much of this material highlights key industry trends – issues that are highly relevant and worthy of further exploration.

One of the hottest issues affecting the industry currently is a renewed commitment to green aviation. I have received a deluge of news items from airlines, aerospace companies and aviation businesses outlining the importance of environmental responsibility; at Wings, it’s a topic we take very seriously. As the content in our third annual green aviation special issue reveals, Canadian firms are actively trumpeting their role in reducing their carbon footprint.

The latest Environment Canada report on greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) shows air transport accounted for 8.5 million metric tonnes in 2008. And while that was only five per cent of the 734 million metric tonnes of GHG emissions created that year, it was still an enormous total – and amounts produced annually since need to be similarly curtailed. Fortunately, Canadian firms are taking innovative steps that will not only make the planet healthier but possibly open up new revenue growth opportunities.

Biofuel development and implementation are key elements in the green aviation game and there have been recent examples of innovation on both the commercial and military fronts. On April 17, one of Porter Airlines’ efficient Q400 turboprop aircraft lifted into the sky at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport en route to Ottawa using a 50/50 blend of biofuel and Jet A1 in one if its engines.
When the plane landed at MacDonald-Cartier Airport, it marked the successful conclusion of a test program launched two years earlier by Porter, Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney Canada, Targeted Growth and the Green Aviation Research and Development Network (GARDN).

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Additional support was provided by Ottawa’s Agrisoma Biosciences Inc., which grew the carinata and produced the carinata bio-oil; Sustainable Oils, which crushed the camelina to make the camelina bio-oil; Honeywell UOP, which converted the bio-oils into the bio-derived jet fuel to meet the D7566 standard; and SkyNRG who were responsible for logistics and blending meeting the D1655 specification.

Not to be outdone, on May 23, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) successfully flew a CC-130H Hercules aircraft using a semi-synthetic jet fuel, blended with plant-sourced oil, for the first time at 8 Wing Trenton, Ont. The demonstration flight-tested the efficacy of a blended jet fuel with 50 per cent F-34 and 50 per cent fuel derived from the camelina plant. (For more on biofuel developments, see “Finding an alternate approach,” pg. 22).

Technological advancements go beyond the realm of biofuel implementation and innovation. In the hopes of reducing fuel burn and GHG emissions, NAV CANADA is actively seeking improved capabilities in air traffic management and has greatly reduced emissions over the past four years. (see, “Winning the emissions game,” pg. 27). Airports in Winnipeg and Edmonton have also carefully designed expansions with green elements in mind, creating energy-efficient “planet-friendly” green spaces while cutting costs in the process (see, “The big green LEED,” pg. 30).

Key industry associations including the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC), the Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC), Canadian Airports Council (CAC), the Canadian Business Aviation Association (CBAA) and the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) are also working together with the federal government to implement change. Canada has committed to a two per cent per year reduction in GHG emissions followed by neutral growth after 2020 and partnerships such as these are invaluable to making that goal a reality.

Wings applauds GARDN and its partners, NAV CANADA, industry associations, the RCAF and other Canadian firms in their efforts to continue to reduce Canada’s environmental footprint both here and abroad. Commitment and leadership from all industry partners is paramount in ensuring Canadian aviation and aerospace companies are at the forefront of environmental responsibility today and for generations to come.


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