London: New technologies have been “hyped” by the aviation industry and media as the key to sustainable air travel, perpetuating a culture of non-accountability for increased emissions and subsequent environmental damage, says a new study.
A team of international researchers explored how new technologies such as alternative fuels, solar flight and a range of aircraft design options are presented by industry and media, alongside the subsequent level of success in practically applying these technologies.
They found that discussion around these technologies creates “myths” of zero-emission flight, shielding the aviation industry from closer scrutiny of its sustainability policies.
“Air travel has experienced substantial growth over the last 40 years. By 2050 energy use in aviation will have tripled, accounting for 19 percent of all transport energy use in 2050, compared to 11 percent in 2006,” Scott Cohen from the University of Surrey said.
“This is in sharp contrast to pledges by industry to reduce flight emissions through technology, aiming for ‘zero emission flight’ through overly hyped developments such as solar planes and hydrogen fuels,” Cohen added.
“The way in which new technologies are presented constitutes a ‘myth’, a form of propaganda which denies the truth that progress in climate policy for aviation has stalled,” the researcher noted.
The study, published recently in the journal Transportation Research Part D, analysed how new aviation technology such as solar flight has been presented by industry as key to sustainable flight.
While presented as a possible solution to high-emission flight, the researchers explored how in fact solar flight is highly unfeasible, with the creators of the first solar plane to fly around the clock admitting that solar planes would “never replace fuel-powered commercial flights”.