The natural growth of the world’s general aviation industry may be stifled if industry and government fail to collaborate on environmental innovation, or arrive at parochial solutions that ignore the global interoperability of the world’s transportation systems, according to Cessna Aircraft Company Chairman, President and CEO Jack J. Pelton. Cessna is a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company.
Pelton made his remarks at Les Respirations annual international environmental congress held this year in Enghien-les-Bains just outside Paris. The event brings together speakers, scientists, doctors and government leaders to discuss air and water quality issues with topics including climate change, renewable energy, emissions trading and more.
“Aviation has established an outstanding track record in reducing its environmental impact as we grow to meet rising demand for transportation around the world,” Pelton said. “We must pursue policies and practices that balance progress and technology with environmental sensitivity.”
In the U.S., all of aviation accounts for only 2 percent of all CO2 emissions caused by burning fossil fuels, yet some seek to put an undue burden on it through unreasonable environmental regulation, Pelton said.
Pelton said over the past four decades, aviation has improved aircraft fuel efficiency by more than 70 percent at the same time passenger and cargo traffic was increasing more than six fold, making aviation an extremely greenhouse gas-efficient economic driver. During the same period, Pelton said jet engine fuel efficiency improved by 70 percent without government carbon emission standards, while federal emission standards for the auto industry enacted during the same period produced only about 15 percent improvement.
“It’s important to note these improvements are a result of customer demand and market forces, not regulation,” Pelton said.
Further reducing aviation’s impact on climate change requires partnership between industry and government and a commitment to find realistic solutions everyone can live with, Pelton said.
“If not, we risk damaging the growth and vitality of the aviation industry, one of the most dynamic, forward-looking and innovative sectors in the world, and an essential part of both the world’s transportation system and the global economy,” Pelton said.
Pelton pointed to Cessna’s recent eco-partnership with Greensburg, Kan., a city almost totally destroyed by a tornado in 2007 and now rebuilding itself as the world’s first “green” city.
Cessna, based nearby in Wichita, Kan., is supporting the effort with its expertise in areas such as engineering, program management and operations.
“Our hope is that this public-private collaboration serves as a model for other communities and businesses that wish to pursue environmental excellence,” Pelton said.
Cessna’s collaboration with Greensburg grew out of an idea generated by the Cessna Environmental Council, formed by Pelton in 2008 to develop and implement the company’s long-term environmental strategy.