Rolls-Royce Executive Sees Many Roads to Sustainability for Aviation Industry Written 22 August 2019

by Cat Hofacker, Aerospace America Staff Reporter

Alan Newby, director of aerospace technology and future programs at Rolls-Royce, delivers remarks on “Towards Sustainable Aviation,” Aug. 22, at the 2019 AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum in Indianapolis. | AIAA-©

AIAA PROPULSION AND ENERGY FORUM, Indianapolis, August 22, 2019 — Aviation faces unique challenges in becoming more sustainable, but the industry is more than up to the challenge, Alan Newby, director of aerospace technology and future programs at Rolls-Royce, said during the “Towards Sustainable Aviation” session here.

Newby spent the final keynote of the forum discussing how aviation can transition to a more sustainable future and how Rolls-Royce plays a “crucial role in solving the greatest challenges” the industry faces.

“I think aviation is a force for good,” Newby said, noting that it goes beyond the 65 million jobs worldwide that the aviation industry provides. “It’s not just about the economic factor. It plays a massive role in connecting people.”

Newby said that role is seen in the increased demand for air travel and that the industry can meet that demand while working toward more sustainable fuels, aircraft and more.

“Our challenge, our job is to make sure we disconnect the emissions growth from the traffic growth,” he said.

Electric aircraft offer a promising solution to noise and carbon emissions, but there are challenges. Newby said Rolls-Royce is developing a range of electrification solutions to meet whatever the market demands.

Cost is a large challenge to these efforts, noted Dan Dumbacher, executive director of AIAA, who joined Newby for the Q&A.

Newby agreed and said companies like Rolls-Royce have a lot more work to do with airlines in identifying opportunities “as we work toward this greener future.”

He asked: “What can we do from a regulations point of view to incentivize some of these options?”

Another element of sustainability is the employees who will make up the future workforce, Newby said. Many young professionals choose a company based on its commitment to sustainability. Rolls-Royce has several initiatives in that area, from developing more sustainable fuels to driving toward zero carbon emissions by 2030.

“It’s not just about the planet; it’s about us that live on it,” he said. “I believe we have a duty to leave this planet in a fit state for the future.”


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