AIAA SciTech: Boeing executive delivers a green message

The coronavirus pandemic provides a unique opportunity for companies to embrace the environmentally friendly technology and practices that will ensure air travel’s long-term success, Boeing Chief Sustainability Officer Christopher Raymond said today.

“Now is the time that we need to help the industry recover. It’s going to take us doing that with all the innovation that we can muster, and a lot of that innovation will be around sustainability,” Raymond said during an online speech and question-and-answer session as part of AIAA’s virtual SciTech Forum.

Raymond was appointed last October as Boeing’s inaugural sustainability chief, a position he described as overseeing Boeing’s “portfolio of solutions” to reduce the environmental impact of the company and the aviation industry as a whole, which includes research on sustainable aviation fuels, SAFs.

In the short term, he said “the most pressing issue is restoring the confidence across our governments and the flying public to have demand return.” At the same time, companies should “use this period” of decreased travel demand to scale up investment and production of SAFs so that viable alternatives to jet fuel might be available once air travel increases to pre-pandemic levels.

He also predicted that the continued grounding of commercial airliners across the globe will have the unexpected benefit of prompting the early retirement of older, less fuel-efficient aircraft, which “can probably create about 8% emissions savings, over the next 15-20 years.”

Raymond said he envisions electric propulsion being pioneered first for smaller aircraft. “By doing it at the smaller segments, we’ll learn what it’s going to take to scale it” for larger aircraft, he said.

“This industry protects and connects the world, so we have faith it will recover,” Raymond said. And when it does, “we can do that with great safety and greater sustainability.”

AIAA SciTech: Boeing executive delivers a green message