Green aviation ecosystem gets bigger thrust
Updated: October 12, 2023 08:53 China Daily

China will comprehensively improve the manufacture of green aircraft as well as enhance the energy-saving, and emission and noise-reduction capabilities of domestically built civil airplanes by 2025, the government said.

The country plans to demonstrate the viability of homemade aircraft using sustainable aviation fuels, or SAF, and commercially operate electric aircraft for general aviation by 2025, a guideline issued earlier this month showed.

The document formulates China's development plan for a green aviation manufacturing system between 2023 and 2035.

The country also plans to operationalize pilot projects of its electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft by 2025, achieve feasible verification of key technologies for hydrogen-powered aircraft, and further strengthen green aviation infrastructure, according to the guideline jointly issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Finance and the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

By 2035, China aims to achieve an advanced green aviation manufacturing system with integrity and safety, and new energy-powered aircraft are expected to form the mainstream of such development.

The C919 is China's first self-developed single-aisle aircraft, and is comparable to the Airbus A320 and the Boeing B737 series. China Eastern Airlines currently operates two C919 planes for daily flights between Shanghai and Chengdu, Sichuan province. By the end of September, these planes had undertaken more than 35,000 passenger flights.

Safety, green compliance, economy and comfort are forecast to become world-class for domestically built large-scale civil aircraft by 2035.

For new types of general aviation equipment, the country is expected to achieve commercialization and large-scale application characterized by unmanned, electric and intelligent technology, according to the guideline.

"Air transportation is irreplaceable in contributing to domestic and international communications. Carbon emissions reduction in the civil aviation sector has been a long process and positive achievements have been gradually emerging," said Yu Zhanfu, a partner at consultancy Roland Berger.

SAF is a sustainably produced aviation fuel that is made from feedstock ranging from used fat, oil and grease to municipal and forestry waste. Compared to fossil jet fuel, SAF has shown it can reduce up to 80 percent of carbon emissions. It is considered a key enabler of decarbonization of the aviation industry, according to aviation industry experts.

European aircraft manufacturer Airbus said China has a huge capability to produce SAF, and it will continue to strengthen cooperation with Chinese suppliers to promote the use of SAF, to contribute to the sustainable growth of the aviation industry.

"We are all committed to achieving net zero emissions for the industry, and regulatory policy will play a key role because it will help stimulate the production of SAF and demand for it," said Julie Kitcher, executive vice-president of Airbus.

The commercial aircraft manufacturer launched a new research center at Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou, Jiangsu province in April. The center is focusing on the research of infrastructure for its futuristic hydrogen-powered aircraft.

Airbus aims to have the first hydrogen-powered aircraft in service by 2035. The center is working to create a supportive ecosystem to ensure the storage, distribution and availability of green hydrogen for operating commercial aircraft.

China, according to the latest government guideline, will make efforts in R&D of key technologies for hydrogen-powered aircraft, accelerate the R&D of key technologies such as hydrogen storage devices and power plants, and carry out research on new structural layout technologies suitable for hydrogen-powered aircraft.

Besides exploring new models for commercial hydrogen-powered aircraft operating systems, China will also actively explore the application methods and paths of liquefied natural gas and other energy sources in the aviation sector, according to the document.

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