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Looking up at clear blue skies through fresh wheat fields

News this month that Volvo intends to make its entire range of cars electric from 2019 may have come as a bit of a shock.

It feels like we’ve spent so long talking about fossil fuel alternatives in the context of something that will happen in the future, to suddenly have one of the world’s biggest car manufacturers announce “hey, it’s here!” makes it feel slightly surprising.

However, although the car industry is looking like it will begin the next decade with electric as its first choice, how the aviation industry evolves will be quite different.

We are seeing huge changes across commercial aviation; and the move away from fossil fuels is just one of many challenges we face.
Terrorism, cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence, and how we respond to them, are some of the big issues we must grapple with this century.

But the environment is one big conversation that will not go away, no matter how hard some may wish it to. So, what is the likely solution?

One of the big points recently made by John Pitts, MD of eJet International, is that unlike the car industry the nature of aviation, and the lengthy lead times in the manufacturing process means that any alternative to fossil fuels – such as renewables – will need to be delivered ready to ‘drop-in’ alongside existing jet fuels.

It simply isn’t possible to produce a commercially viable fuel alternative that requires any changes to the engine as there will not be a market for it.

Having said that we are seeing some significant moves towards renewables.

In 2016 the first commercial flight using sustainable fuel was completed by Alaska Airlines. This fuel was derived from ‘forest residuals’.
Airbus is currently working alongside the Technical University of Munich to develop bio-jet fuel from algae.

With the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), Europe is leading the way on renewables.

Globally, we have just seen the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) sign up to a worldwide scheme that will require all aircraft operators to offset CO2 emissions.

CORSIA, The Carbon Offsetting Scheme for International Aviation, will be mandatory from 2027. Across the US however, over 60 States have already decided to get ahead of the game, adopting the scheme on a voluntary basis.

So, what about the sustainability of the supply chain?

As part of the SC21 Programme we are part of a drive to implement continuous business improvements across the aerospace and defence sectors.

It is becoming widely recognised that to meet ambitious sustainable growth goals of aviation will require systemic thinking throughout the industry.

Some of the core discussions that are taking place as we speak, include key issues such as hazardous substance elimination, greenhouse gas reporting and reduction and supply chain sustainability.

Initiatives like IAEG aim to bring supply chain stakeholders together across the industry to find ways to respond to the challenges faced by ever expanding demand.

The aim is to unite the aerospace industry as we work towards a sustainable future. This takes hard work and time, but we recognise that sustainable supply chains have the potential to be just as good for business and they are for the environment.


We have been manufacturing and supplying aerospace fasteners since the 1950s. If you would like to find out more about how we our expertise in space industry fasteners can help you, call us today on +44 (0)208 504 8833 or send us a direct message

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