Anyone else worried about the future of aviation?

So I am conflicted here. I mean I love aviation hence I am on this forum and playing MSFS. I also work in aviation (not as a pilot, as a meteorologist). However it is no secret anymore we live in a warming climate where we need to decrease burning fosil fuels. I know aviation is only a relative small part in this. But people need cars to go to their work etc. Do they need a holiday on a tropical island or on a cruiseship? No they don’t. So I’m worried aviation will get cut down sooner or later. At least there is a strong lobby.

I really hope aviation can become more sustainable. I know there is already a lot of work in this. How will it look, in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? I have no idea anymore.

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This is true. I’m a pilot with a cargo carrier and I know all my colleges think of the future as well; especially the younger pilots coming on board.

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In theory we have a couple ways to get off the fossil fuel merry-go-round for airliners (in addition to simply maybe we fly long distances less often when we don’t need to, reducing total passenger miles):

  • sustainable aviation fuel - non-kerosene jet fuel alternatives can be made from newly grown plant material, preferably that was going to waste otherwise, reducing the net carbon impact vs fossil fuels which release carbon that used to be in the ground. This seems to be more expensive than pumping petroleum, though, so prices will go up.

  • (out there) hydrogen-burning turbines! (but you have to make/extract the hydrogen gas, and this again takes energy, costing money, and the enignes need a lot more development vs the plant-oil-based fuels)

  • companies keep painting this rosy future of lightweight electric-powered aircraft for short routes and “feeder” routes to hubs. Lithium-ion batteries + electric motors are ok for this niche, but batteries are heavy and – you guessed it – require dangerous, toxic mining!

This is why we can’t have nice things. :wink:

Enjoy your ticket prices today, folks, the sim may be all we can afford in 20 years. :wink: :wink:

Classic piston prop GA planes though are a pretty small niche, to such a degree that our flying pals escaped the leaded gas ban for decades. :smiley: 100UL is starting to roll out, and who knows perhaps one day we’ll all be flying or spotting all-electric Cessna conversions with batteries or hydrogen fuel cells for power. :smiley:

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NOAA claims aviation is responsible for 3.5 percent of all drivers of climate change from human activities. Two thirds from contrails. I don’t know what impact on this number is due to General aviation, probably very small.

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My bet is that synthetic fuels, plant-based or otherwise, will be the way forward especially for aviation. I doubt that the global economy could manage without aviation, cargo flights in particular.

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This is surprisingly low when looking what’s going on at flightradar. That’s actually very good news to read. I was expecting it to be 10% or more.

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This got me thinking why we are not seeing a serious representation of e-planes in the sim. There’re much development going out IRL for years if not decades already! At least that’s one way I can think about the future of GA.

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It’s the contrails and contrail cirrus effect that the scientists are most worried about. They cause ‘global dimming’ which reduces the effect of sunlight on plant life, first recorded after 9/11 when all flights were grounded in the USA.

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I suspect vehicles such as ATVs contribute more to the problem then General Aviation as a whole. Would be interesting to see if any studies have been done on this.

This looks promising. I hope it is more than a fancy website and nice marketing:

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I’m worried about ribeyes being banned.

“The digestive systems of ruminants and their manure both generate methane, CH4. The volume of methane they produce is much smaller than the volume of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, but methane – molecule for molecule — has over twenty times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Hence, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) livestock generate 18 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalents — more than the entire transport sector, automobiles, trains, ships, and planes.”

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I think I’m more worried about making sure competent people are at the controls more than I’m worried about whether or not the plane burns clean fuel.

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Hydrogen gets a lot of hype in the media, but it ignores it’s biggest downside, energy density. You would need huge tanks reinforced to carry large volumes of cryogenic hydrogen, and failure is not an option.

Rocket designs that use hydrogen are huge. Those that use kerosene (basically refined gasoline) are relatively small in comparison.

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I’m more worried about the health and viability of the worldwide GA fleet. In 1978, almost 18,000 Piston GA planes were built. In 2023 that number was 1,600. The prices of these piston models starts in the $400k range and gets up to $1M with an SR22T with all the options. In 1978, a brand new Cessna 172 started at $9,450 ($45,200 if corrected for inflation).

The average age of the piston GA fleet is now over 50 years old. These aircraft were not designed to fly for 50 years or more. The average age is increasing, not decreasing.

Leaded fuel is currently required for higher performance GA engines. There is currently no adequate replacement. Understandably, there are efforts all around the country to ban leaded fuel. This will kill the higher performance GA fleet unless someone is able to come up with an effective unleaded solution.

Small airports and airfields all around the country are being closed, and very few to none are being opened.

You need small planes to be able to teach people how to fly big planes. And the robots aren’t taking over just yet…

The fashion industry creates 8-10% of worldwide emissions. China’s coal plants alone create 26% of worldwide carbon emissions. Worldwide cattle create about 10%. Worldwide shipping: About 3%. So, between Cows, China, Clothes, Ships and planes, we’re already up to 50%. It’s easy to highlight the problems on one industry, but some of the bigger ways to help hit closer to home.

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True!
I consider myself to be a meat lover and the best T-bone I’ve ever ate was the 1 kg slice on the menu of Belthazar in Cape Town SA.
It took me over 3 days to digest but hey, you only live once…
Those following 3-4 days I only had some salads and bread, so on average I feel ok about that T-bone.
Back on topic: I’m not convinced that we, as human beings are the main cause of global warming.
I don’t deny our reponsibilities regarding the environment.
Think of it: 8 billion people on this tiny planet currently and we keep reproducing.
Well, not all…
I decided to not multiply myself a long time ago.

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In California, RHV Reid Hillview Airport in Santa Clara County, banned the use of 100LL the fuel used in all piston aircraft… Due to lead concerns…. FAA is yet to rule on the decision.

Many Airports want to close in California, the epicenter of this issue…

If this thread gets any more political it’s going to get locked.

On the leaded front, can’t these piston engines have different valves, valve guides and seats installed to utilize unleaded fuel? Is there something about aviation that needs leaded fuel more than ground-based 4-stroke piston engines? Vintage car engines faced the unleaded issue and survived.

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Higher performance aviation engines require higher cylinder compression. Leaded fuel enables higher octane ratings at lower cost. This reduces pre-detonation problems that would trash aviation engines.

Car engines and aircraft piston engines have very different operating environments, weight limitations, and cooling issues. Car engines use computer-controlled systems to enable proper operation. These are theoretically available in the GA world, but testing and certification costs would be so vast, that there wouldn’t be an acceptable return on investment.

Diamond is going all in on these types of engines on their new-build GA fleet. The DA40NG, DA50, DA42, and DA62 have Jet A options with FADEC controlled engines.

Cessna and Cirrus are not joining this trend for lots of different reasons.

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Lead in fuel is not the same as octane. Lead is a lubricant — one specifically utilized for the valve train.

Lead is not related to high compression.

Hence the real aviation tag.

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Lead has zero lubricant value. That’s an old wives tale. Engines last longer without lead buildup. That’s why oil changes for unleaded fuel can happen at longer intervals than leaded fuel.

Lead in the fuel is 100% about octane rating and reducing pre-detonation.

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