There is a need to explore the environmental challenges and opportunities facing the aviation sector and what its stakeholders are doing to mitigate its negative environmental impacts. There are concerns that the industry needs to embrace an integrative model that enhances its operation in the new business world. This is because the current corporate world places great emphasis on the integration of environmental care into business objectives. Presently, the industry continues to take on methods, relating to the use of effective fuels, informative engine technology, traffic control and emissions trading, among others. This essay strongly recommends for the active involvement of aviation stakeholders to establish and follow regulations to guide the industry in reducing its negative impacts on the environment.
Approximately 20,000 aircrafts ply through nearly 15,000 air terminals throughout the world. These are further estimated to cover and operate on routes more than 15 million miles in distance. The industry commands an approximate annual population of 2.5 billion passengers around the world for both vocational and business trips (EASA, 2012). Additionally, the industry is in charge of transporting over a third of the globe’s manufactured products by air. It stands out as a worldwide generator of over 32 million jobs thus accounting for close to 9% of the world’s GDP. The aviation sector has gone through thick and thin since its inception in 1783. Presently, commercial flights have continued to fill the skylines more than ever experienced. Air traffic experts report that while air travel is on the rise, greenhouse gas emission from the sector has also increased to records of almost 75% within the last decade (EASA, 2012).
For instance, while China’s air travel increases by close to 12% each year, the global air travel has since been increasing by an annual growth of 5%. This reveals a growth faster than any given form of travel. The following happen to be some of the environmental challenges facing the aviation industry. First, the traditional craft has attained a reputation for adverse noise pollution. Indeed, craft noise shows the capacity of affecting the quality of life of a sizeable amount of the population living close to air terminals. In the UK, over half a million individuals live close to airports: with over three quarters of them located South East of England. Current airport reports show a collection of possible policy tools that governments have formulated. These tools could assist in the provision of noise reduction mechanisms around air terminals (Taber, 2010).
However, earlier projections that point to the increase in air traffic, if attainted, would more than likely challenge the efforts of trying to make individual flights peaceful and quiet. Therefore, the predicted uncontrolled growth in the aviation industry would significantly worsen the noise situation around a majority of the globe’s airports over the coming years. Large populations of city dwellers are exposed, thus, to risks associated with flight take-off and touchdown noises. These risks include annoyance, lack of sleep, and eventual hearing effects of craft noise. This calls for substantial improvements in the noise concerns around all major airports. Contrary to this move, aviation noise pollution would become a huge factor hindering the expansion of the aviation industry (Dillingham & Belva, 2001).
Secondly, the aviation transport sector may not be immune to its negative impacts on the overall climatic change. As the skies continue to fill up with all forms of air transport, the effects of greenhouse gas emissions rise along trend. The air industry accounts for a negligible but slightly increasing amount of carbon dioxide emissions. Presently, the sector is responsible for approximately 3 % of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. However, the emission of other GHG such as Nitrous Oxide and Water vapor contrails close to the stratosphere has become much higher. This level is frequented by commercial airlines, which thus contribute to over 10 % of the area’s pollution. Air transport, therefore, exists as the globe’s largest growing emitter of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide that lead to adverse climatic change. The commercial jet engine aircraft has become the world’s biggest air polluter by emitting close to 700 million tones of CO2 (EASA, 2012).
This serves as a major component of the greenhouse gases that cause the global warming effect. For instance, an individual flying on a commercial jet between New York and London is responsible for the generation of about 2 tons of carbon dioxide. This equates to the annual amount an average American generates during domestic heating and electricity. Therefore, congested skylines imply an increase in the number of flight population that translates to more fuel consumption, thus pollution. An increased consumption in the industry will, then, imply that more GHG have been emitted, thus negatively contributing to global warming. While plants and water bodies absorb a huge amount of the carbon dioxide, much of it becomes atmospheric (EASA, 2012).
It is then combined with other gases and substances to create the greenhouse effect around the earth. This effect implies that the atmospheric heat that usually escapes into space is reflected back into the atmosphere, thus raising the overall temperatures. Additionally, water vapor and Nitrogen Oxides from crafts have the effect of cirrus cloud formation, thus creating contrails. These two creations are usually visible by those on the earth’s surface. Though noise and air pollution stand out as the most visible environmental concerns related to the aviation industry, there happen to be a number of other impacts.
These would result from operating and using the general airport infrastructure. First, airport land grabbing involves the taking away of land from their original owners for the construction and expansion of airports. This form of environmental concern affects national heritage sites, wildlife, basic human activities and landscape. Secondly, there have been reported cases of water pollution because of aircraft de-icing, runaway cleaning, and airport construction. Lastly, all major airports have encountered their share of ineffective waste management from terminal structures. Many of the above environmental concerns appear generic to development and are, therefore, amenable to eventual control.
Theoretically, adapting to the green movement seems like an excellent move for aviation companies to take. However, the limited access to information on performance factors and cost effectiveness usually hinders them from taking effective actions on environmental concerns. However, they are engaged in some of the following environmental related opportunities. First, aviation firms which analyze and act upon environmental challenges earlier than their competitors have a better chance of avoiding potential undesirable effects. They, therefore, engage in the revelation of their climatic risks during their report analysis, thus protecting against future financial risks (Dillingham & Belva, 2001).
Secondly, institutional and individual investors in the aviation industry are increasingly concerned about the environmental effects of a company, as an evidence of effective management. Therefore, aviation companies have taken advantage of such opportunities in demonstrating their industrial outcomes on climatic change. Therefore, stakeholders are engaged in better traffic management to increase efficiency and profits. Secondly, the adaptation of alternative fuels in companies such as Boeing shows an initiative towards effective environmental management. As a major stakeholder in the air travel industry, Boeing hopes to reduce GHG emissions into the atmosphere through advanced generation and use of bio fuel technology, the use of solar cells and fuel cells. The last two technologies effectively convert renewable resources such as solar energy into electricity, thus reducing the cost of doing business and increasing profits (Taber, 2010).
Based on the above facts, it is obvious that the aviation industry has a considerable impact on the world’s economy. However, the industry is not immune to the negative and positive impact it has on the environment. For instance, as the industry grows so do its effects of Carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, the major present environmental concerns facing the aviation industry include pollution, environmental degradation, climatic change and natural resource depletion. Governmental and non-governmental organizations for environmental conservation have become notable for lobbying for the protection of key environmental elements and other valuable natural sites.