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Students First • L’élève avant tout Since 1909

Summer Green Guide: Is Air Travel Incompatible with the Environment?

Travelling by plane is not environmentally sustainable. Even domestic flights can be a considerable source of pollution. One round-trip flight between New York and Los Angeles, for instance, and contributes about 20% of the greenhouse gases emitted by a car over the span of a full year.

A Necessity Not to Be Overlooked
In spite of the above, planes are undeniably intrinsically linked to our society as a whole, as they allow us to get from one place to another much faster than if we were to employ other vehicles, such as cars or trains. In other words, getting rid of the plane will be quite a challenge.

Looking Towards the Future
Fortunately, it will not be necessary for us to forgo such a great invention as the plane, as  the development of sustainable electric aircraft will allow us to keep both air travel and our planet around for several generations to come:

The all-electric Cessna 208, created by the engineering firm magniX, is the largest electric plane to date and has recently flown for a total distance of 100 miles (160 km). Although this is definitely not quite enough to cross the Atlantic, according to Roei Ganzarski, the company’s CEO, this range could be increased by a factor of 5 in future models. In addition to being sustainable, this plane is also much cheaper. Its operational cost could be as much as 50 percent less when compared to regular aircraft.

Moreover, a new prototype jet engine that runs solely on electricity is currently in development. How does it work, you ask? Essentially, it is a powerful microwave that converts oxygen into plasma, which results in thrust and allows the engine to propel the given vehicle. Although this is still very much a work in progress, it could be a huge advance in terms of green travel, as these engines do not consume fossil fuels.

Conclusion
All in all, planes do pollute, that’s true, and to slow down global warming, flying less can help. But, this may not always be the case. Developments in the field of science and engineering stand to make flying much greener. Stay tuned!


Sources:
Huffington Post
Flight Deck Friend
Popular Mechanics
RT