Sustainability Spotlight: Tackling Decarbonization with the New Aviation Climate Taskforce

Panasonic Avionics< Panasonic Avionics
02/09/22 2 MIN READ

In late 2021, Virgin Atlantic, Air France–KLM, and Delta Air Lines joined forces with Boston Consulting Group to pursue the decarbonization of air travel. Their new non-profit, dubbed the Aviation Climate Taskforce (ACT), is tasked with accelerating technology breakthroughs to help the airline industry achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Since ACT’s launch in October 2021, a number of airlines have joined the task force. The collaborative, pan-industry approach is critical for climate action; ACT’s website notes that “the aviation sector must collaborate on what is a pre-competitive challenge, adopting a more unified approach and vehicle to accelerate development of solutions.”

In a media release, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said that addressing the airline industry’s carbon footprint takes a portfolio approach, meaning that no single solution can solve decarbonization. Rather, it takes a range of solutions from a range of partners. “Through its focus on breakthrough technologies, the Aviation Climate Taskforce will support near and medium-term innovations in emerging SAF pathways, as well as longer term breakthroughs such as electric and hydrogen flight,” said Weiss.

ACT’s focus on breakthrough technologies is aimed at helping emerging ideas overcome the “Valley of Death,” a chasm into which many young, proven technologies fall because of a lack of investment. In actuality, there are three major pitfalls between development and widespread adoption, ACT notes: the technological valley, the commercialization valley, and the market expansion valley—all three of which can slow or even kill a promising technology-based solution. To counter this, ACT will focus its efforts on promoting research and development, adoption, and investment.

Collaboration across the airline industry is key to breaking down innovation silos and bringing airlines into a net-zero future. As CEO of Air France–KLM Benjamin Smith attested, “We are convinced that we will only succeed with the commitment of all stakeholders from across the aviation value chain.”

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