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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Letter to Flying Matters - just pointing out a slight flaw.

Dear Brian,

I was absolutely delighted to read the comment on your web site, where you say “the aviation industry has already committed itself to reducing its emissions to 2000 levels by 2050 against a threefold increase in passenger numbers. That is a major challenge but one which we are confident the industry can meet through a combination of technology, use of sustainable biofuels and operational improvements. The inclusion of aviation within a global deal on emissions is also a crucial part of this mix.”

As an aeronautical engineer and now a maths teacher, your comment has a particular resonance with me so I set my students the mathematical challenge of working out how much you would have to reduce plane emission to achieve this.

My class took an EU press release which reported "Aviation emissions are increasing fast – European aviation emissions increased 87% since between 1990 and 2006." My class has worked out that this equates to a growth rate of 3.989% per annum. They have also worked out that from 2000 to the time you made your statement, aviation emissions would have grown 47.8%, and the doubling time is 17.72 years.

To cope with the trebling of passengers that you advertise, the emissions would have to be reduced by a third, so in total aviation emission per plane would have to reduce to 22.5% of today’s levels, (calculated by 1/3 divided by 1.47). So you need to improve efficiency by a factor of 4.54 for all planes flying.

As an aeronautical engineer, I find it just a bit difficult to believe that this is possible. Could you explain to me how this will be achieved, as I must have missed something important when I did my degree.

My class have read about climate change and are very worried about its implications and the need for a balanced debate so they are really keen to hear your response.


Kevin Lister

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