Prospects May Have Shifted During Flight
Booming airline industry gives nod to climate change
The world’s biggest air show opens in France today, and the commercial airline industry is all hepped up on salted peanuts: after two years in the red, it’s expected to reap $5 billion in profits this year. Both Boeing and Airbus announced billions of dollars of aircraft orders today, and the industry — which spews about 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions — shows no signs of slowing down. It does, however, show signs of recognizing its impacts. Last week, Airbus exec Louis Gallois pledged a 25 percent increase in R&D spending with an eye toward a 50 percent cut in carbon emissions from 2000 levels by 2020. European Union officials proposed a $2.1 billion “Clean Sky” program that would cut emissions 20 to 40 percent and reduce jet noise. Aircraft companies are saving fuel by replacing aluminum with lighter-weight plastic, and just yesterday, Boeing exec Scott Carson said — well, he said emissions were the fault of engine makers, not his company. But at least he sees the problem.