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Omega – “Aviation in a sustainable world”

The ‘Omega’ project has completed its two year programme of work with a report and 2-day seminar.

AEF were heavily involved in the project and extensive quotes from Director Tim Johnson and Policy Officer Cait Weston feature in the report. AEF staff – Tim Johnson, Cait Weston, Laura Simpson and Nic Ferriday – attended many of the seminars and workshops and Tim Johnson gave a presentation at the final seminar.

The Omega project is a collaborative project by 9 universities “Omega is a one-stop-shop providing impartial world-class academic expertise on the environmental issues facing aviation ..  Omega works closely with those at the frontline of the aviation community – ranging from industry, to government through to NGOs – to explore solutions that are practical and deliverable .. As an independent body, Omega has a unique opportunity to engage with representatives from all aspects of the aviation-environment debate. It brings together parties with often divergent views to share and develop knowledge and best practice in a ‘neutral forum’

The Omega project produced some 21 major reports, covering:

• Climate change
• Local air quality [pollution]
• Noise
• Aircraft systems
• Aircraft operations
• Alternative fuels
• Demand
• Mitigation policies

AEF was particularly involved in two 2 of the projects:

•  Noise metrics (‘Indices to enhance understanding & management of community responses to aircraft noise exposure’)
•  ‘Icarus’ (to reduce carbon footprint of business air travel)

Omega is a ‘knowledge transfer’ project and therefore did not undertake new research. One would therefore not expect startling new insights, but more a consolidation and dissemination of knowledge, together with an analysis of the (major) gaps in knowledge and an identification of further work needed.

For example the ‘Aircraft Systems’ report said “There are no easy technological or operational solutions to the aviation emissions problem. Aviation technology has reached a level of efficiency and maturity that leaves limited scope for further incremental improvement. .. The report concludes that radical change to the standard aircraft configuration would be required for significant reductions in emissions, but notes that this seems to be a distant prospect.”

This sober assessment should help dispel the all too prevalent view that technology will solve aviation’s environmental problems and that we can continue with ‘business as usual’.

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