The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has earmarked $100 million in contracts to support the creation of eco-friendly technologies, including initiatives designed to cut aircraft emissions that produce greenhouse gases.
The contracts are part of the agency’s CLEEN program, which stands for Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions, and Noise. The program is aimed at developing commercial solutions that shrink the environmental footprint of aviation technologies, including sustainable alternative fuels that reduce emissions and fuel burn.
In a statement announcing the contracts in September 2015, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the FAA wants to partner with the private sector in order to ensure the aviation industry is efficient and environmentally sustainable. Fox called that scenario “a win-win for the American people.”
Contract recipients include Boeing, General Electric Aviation, Honeywell Aerospace and Rolls-Royce Corp. The companies must match or exceed the FAA funding, meaning at least $200 million will be invested in various airframe and engine technologies, and ground and flight test demonstrations.
The FAA said the new technologies could be implemented into the commercial aviation sector within a decade.
Specific goals of the public-private CLEEN program, which was launched in 2010, include improving fuel efficiency, lowering nitrogen oxide emissions, reducing noise levels and quickening the adoption of sustainable jet fuels.
By 2018, the FAA wants U.S. airlines to be using 1 billion gallons of sustainable fuel annually, which would represent about 6% of current fuel consumption. Airlines have been exploring the use of renewable jet fuels, including biofuels derived from sugar cane and used cooking oil.
The move to address carbon emissions in aircraft has been picking up steam. In June, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it would seek to limit emissions from some aircraft because of their contributions to greenhouse gases and global warming.
Aircraft contribute about 3% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. When considering only the transportation sector, aircraft account for 11% of emissions, according to the EPA. Among all aircraft worldwide, U.S. airlines account for about 30% of emissions.
In conjunction with the International Civil Aviation Organization, environmental regulators in the United States are seeking to develop global benchmarks for aircraft emissions by 2018. The regulations are expected to focus on standards for engines used in commercial aircraft.