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Fact Sheet: Technology Roadmap for Environmental Improvement

  1. The IATA Technology Roadmap gives an overview of current and future technologies that can reduce aviation's carbon footprint
  2. It analyzes the potential carbon reduction benefits of new airframe and engine technologies 
  3. The Roadmap considers short-term solutions such as retrofits as well as longer-term developments that can only be implemented in new aircraft designs, including radical new aircraft concepts
  4. It identifies an improvement in fuel efficiency of around 30% by the mid-2020s of the new generation of regional and single-aisle aircraft

The following table shows the latest fuel efficiency estimates for implementation of new technologies.

Fuel and carbon efficiency potential for aircraft equipped with new technologies (compared to 2005 baseline)

Timelines and examples of technologies Total Impact
Retrofits (winglets, riblets, lightweight cabin furnishing)  6 to 9%
Production upgrades (active load alleviation, composite structure components) 9 to 20%
New aircraft design until the early 2020s (geared turbofan, counter-rotating turbofan) 10 to 21%
New aircraft design for the mid 2020s or later (laminar flow control, open rotor, fuel cell for on-board energy) 27 to 40%
New aircraft design well beyond 2020 (blended wing body, revolutionary engines, electrical aircraft) up to 50%

Most promising technologies for next-generation aircraft

  • Laminar flow control technology (natural and hybrid)
  • Active load alleviation and variable camber
  • Winglets and riblets
  • Structural health monitoring
  • Composite structures for wing and fuselage
  • Engine architectures: geared turbofan, advanced turbofan and open rotor

World fleet impact

Thanks to continuous fleet renewal, the average fuel efficiency in the different aircraft size categories of the world fleet will continuously improve over the coming years.

  • The regional aircraft category is forecasted to register the strongest efficiency improvement of around 2% p.a. until 2030
  •  Aircraft between 100 and 400 seats are expected to improve by 1.2% to 1.5% per annum  
  • The category above 400 seats already consists of a majority of new efficient aircraft, such as the A380 and 747-8; therefore, the expected improvement in the coming years remains below 1% p.a. 

In addition to these improvements, further optimizing operations as well as the more efficient use of airport and airspace infrastructure is expected to bring further gains in fuel efficiency.

Partnership

The IATA Technology Roadmap was elaborated together with the German Aerospace
Centre (DLR) and the Georgia Institute of Technology, with contributions from over 20 partners from industry and research organizations. 

Updated: December 2013

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