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Ecolabel for Aircraft – Definition and Application

Scholz, Dieter

Background: In 2019 EASA started work on a labeling system for the aviation industry. This let to a workshop on 2019-10-24, but activities stopped already shortly after that date. An "Ecolabel for Aircraft" was proposed and published by HAW Hamburg already in 2017. >>>
Motivation: With IPCC Reports, "Fridays for Future", and "Flygskam", the aviation industry is getting into defense. Recent industry climate initiatives failed to convince, because an agreed metric is missing, based on which the proposals could be discussed. >>>
Method: The proposed label follows requirements from ISO 14020 Series: Environmental labels and declarations. The label considers resource depletion (fuel consumption), global warming (equivalent CO2), local air quality (NOx) based on ozone formation potential and particulate matter formation, and finally noise. Seat arrangements in different travel classes are considered based on the cabin floor area occupied by each passenger. Even a comparison of airline fleets is possible with the proposed metric. >>>
Results: Modern aircraft are better than older aircraft designs. Different modern engines yield similar environmental results. Low cost carrier are better than legacy carrier, because they transport more passengers in the same cabin. Modern propeller driven aircraft have the lowest environmental impact. They are environmentally much better than comparable jets. If travel plans require use of an aircraft, passengers should select a flight on the shortest route and select the best aircraft-airline-combination based on the ecolabel. Airlines that operate a modern fleet, have tight seating in a single (economy) class, and are known for their high load factor may not be fun to fly with, but are better for the environment. Obviously, a ticket in the economy class should be booked, if the cabin features more than one class.

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