Business Aviation – The State of Getting to Net Zero in Aviation

In this article you’ll learn about the current state of Business Aviation when it comes to getting to net zero emissions. This article is part of our blog series, where we will dive into the following aviation industry sectors and analyze the current state of getting to net zero emissions: General Aviation, VTOL, Business Aviation, Initial Training, Short haul commercial flights and Medium and long haul commercial flights. Stay tuned for the other upcoming parts.

Business Aviation can be summed up to be basically any non-scheduled flight used for business purposes. This usually includes helicopter flights, flights with fixed-wing single and multi-engine turboprops as well as trips performed with business jets. For simplicity, we’ll leave helicopters out of the picture as they’re overlapping with the already covered VTOL-segment. Let’s start with having a closer look at existing airframers first.

Daher / TBM

Daher, the French manufacturer of the TBM-Series aircraft did early tests with a blend of bio fuel mixed with regular Jet A fuel back in 2019 while flying their TBM 910 model to EBACE, Europe’s largest business aviation trade fair in Geneva, Switzerland.

At NBAA in October this year, Daher outlined their commitment towards reducing carbon emissions:

  • Objective 1: Achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050
  • Objective 2: Continue to improve fuel efficiency 2% per year from 2020 to 2030
  • Objective 3: Carbon neutral growth beyond 2020

Daher partners in the EcoPulse program for the development of hybrid propulsion systems. Under the program, Daher, in collaboration with Safran and Airbus with the support of France’s CORAC, is developing a “shared hybrid” demonstrator with a turbogenerator driving 6 50kW electric motors next to a traditional turboprop engine. The project passed already the Preliminary Design Review (PDR), the first flight is currently planned for 2022.

Rendering of EcoPulse. Source: Daher

Cessna

Cessna (as well as Hawker Beechcraft) is part of Textron Aviation, the aviation branch of Textron. The manufacturer is home to the iconic single engine piston aircraft series like the Cessna 172 and 182 but also produces the widely used single-engine turboprop Cessna Caravan and the twin-engine jet Cessna Citation family.

Cessna broke news in 2009 when they announced that they were industry-first to fly a Beechcraft Bonanza with Swift sustainable aviation fuel. Since then, the company made further progress in getting its model ranges certified to consume sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and offers SAF as a fueling option for the Beechcraft turboprops and Cessna turboprops and jet deliveries.

SAF fueling at Wichita. Source: Cessna/Textron Aviation

While Cessna/Textron Aviation was not available for comment on their ongoing work to make their offering more sustainable, there are a few newsworthy activities happening involving Cessna aircraft.

Textron Aviation is working with Surf Air Mobility to convert the Cessna Caravan EX for hybrid electric flight (with long term goal of full electric flight). Entry into service is currently targeted for 2024. Surf Air Mobility has acquired quite a few companies in the electric powertrain space recently and also owns Surf Air, a marketplace for private flights.

Rendering of Cessna Caravan EX for Surf Air. Source: Cessna

Electric powertrain developer magniX already converted a Cessna Caravan to full electric flight and conducted the first flight in May 2020. The aircraft is powered by a magniX 750HP magni500 EPU. The initial endurance is 30mins due to to battery limitations.


Bombardier

Canadian manufacturer of the Challenger and Global business jet series outlines their path towards sustainability in their ESG plan, short for Environmental, Social and Governance. Relevant objective “Lead sustainable aviation by designing innovative and environmentally responsible products” focuses on maximzing the use SAFs within their internal flight operations.

Dassault

Dassault, the French manufacturer of the Falcon twin and tripple-engine business jets also sets its focus on the usage of SAFs: The Falcon family is already biofuel compatible.

Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs)

We will cover the current state of SAFs in an upcoming article as this is a huge topic by itself.

NetZero.aero rating 2021

Segment: Business Aviation

Outlook of getting to net zero emissions: *** (3/5).

Comment: Since business aviation includes short, medium and long haul flights, a huge effort is needed to fully decarbonize this segment.

Current state of the whole segment: * (1/5).

Comment: Initial success with electric or hybrid electric flight is mostly done on the prototype stage. The focus on SAF alone will not be enough to get to net zero emissions.

Overall rating: ** (2/5).

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