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Imagining responsible air transport

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Three engineering students have taken up the challenge, seeking to offer a vision of a decarbonized aviation industry within 20 years in order to limit aviation’s impact on the environment while ensuring good economic performances for the sector. They wanted to submit their ideas to their predecessors to learn from their experience and from the reality in the field.

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DRAGON - ONERA et CLEAN SKY 2

Quentin Barascud, Antoine Salgas and Victor Lauféron are three aviation enthusiasts in their third year of the engineering program. They always knew they wanted to go to ISAE-SUPAERO. Unable to go on their gap year internships due to the health crisis, they were happy to work on a micro-project proposed by the Institute’s management to think about an outline for a few solutions to improve aviation’s climate impact. They sought to understand the challenges of these questions from a technological point of view, but also from a societal and economic point of view in order to offer a sustainable future for the industry for the year 2040. Drawn up on the basis of public data and their academic knowledge, this report gave them an opportunity to propose several ideas to initiate the shift toward truly greener aviation.
We proposed a list of measures aimed at reducing this impact while preserving aviation’s raison d’être – a gateway to the world, said Antoine Salgas.

Sustainable development is everybody’s business

The idea behind this project is also to exchange and compare these analyses with experts from the Académie de l’Air et de l’Espace (Air and Space Academy), former program directors and pioneers in the French and European aviation industry. This was an opportunity to have intergenerational discussions and to fine-tune their ideas to gain more of an inside view of these aspects. The aim was to gather outside opinions and understand the constraints to move forward and open up new, less theoretical horizons.
“For us it was also an opportunity to realize that our generation isn’t the only one concerned with these challenges,” Antoine explained after their videoconference discussions.

These discussions helped the students to better comprehend the extreme complexity of certain points mentioned in their report, “15 Ideas for More Sustainable Air Transport”.
“This also gave us the impression that we really could change the industry. We saw a strong desire in the industry for a paradigm shift and working toward developing green aviation,”
Victor Lauféron explained.

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Projet avions électrique X-57 Maxwell - NASA // Crédits photo NASA

After these discussions, the students got back to work to digest the academics’ comments. It is important for stakeholders as well as for management to share this work with all the students at ISAE-SUPAERO in ways the still need to be defined. Because, as the members of the Academy pointed out during their discussions, the movement of ideas is a key component in the energy transition challenge.

Sustainable development is a vital topic and has been adopted by the Board of Directors at ISAE-SUPAERO as being a key element in education. These discussion and this feedback are part of our teaching approach and should be extended to all students, not only to expand their knowledge but also to include reliable elements in processing sensitive subjects such as sustainable development.
The academics made proposals, such as extending these discussion to the different transport modes through inter-school relations in order to further multiply discussions among these future leaders.

A green future

Victor hopes that their initial talks on the subject will give other students new ideas for finding solutions to the colossal climate change problem.

Antoine imagines working on finding solutions to this challenge.
“Although I’m still very cautions when I hear the government announcing “zero carbon” aircraft, the political will is there, with the promise of great projects that our generation will be able to work on.”

Quentin Barascud concluded: “This may be the most important challenge the sector has ever been confronted with, but I think we need to have ambitions for sustainable, green aviation in order to keep the best of what it has to offer. Because if we, future aeronautical engineers, don’t believe in it, this type of project will never see the light of day.”

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