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Sustainability in Irish Aviation Industry

Energy, Environment

Some Facts About Irish Aviation Industry

Ireland is a significant player in international aviation with a strategically vital role in air traffic management on the North Atlantic. The country is a well-known comprehensive centre for aircraft leasing. Almost 4,000 of the 22,000 aircraft currently in operation around the world are owned by Irish based lessors (according to the National Aviation Policy for Ireland, 2015).

Ireland is the licensing State of the largest intra-community carrier, Ryanair as well. It is therefore crucial that Ireland has an influence on the developments at EU level and the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to ensure that Irish aviation interests are protected and advanced in the development of the international and EU regulatory frameworks. Ireland is a Council member of the European Union and therefore, participates in all decisions and legislation adopted at the EU level. The EU legislation on aviation is cooperatively decided by the Council and the European Parliament.

Aviation Industry’s Effects on Climate Change

Several other greenhouse gases (except Carbon Dioxide) and chemicals that can be attributed to airport and aircraft-related operations are:

  • Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  • Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)
  • Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
  • Unburned Hydrocarbons (UHCs)
  • Particulate Pollution (PM2.5 & PM10)
  • Odour

Noise pollution created by aircrafts and airport-related activities, such as airfield ground transport, airfield systems, airport buildings etc. does not have a lasting impact on the environment per se; but can have significant impacts on people living in close vicinity. This could include sleep trouble, disturbance in communication and other adverse effects on physical and mental health.

Condensation trails or contrails formed by aircrafts are lines of crystals created due to a disturbance in the air moisture content and temperature. The contrails tend to warm the Earth’s surface temperature much like thin high clouds. Information gathered with the help of satellites revealed that these line shaped clouds had covered on average about 0.5% of the area over Central Europe in 1997.

Aviation Contrails

Sustainability, Climate Change and the Environment – Measures Taken

Discussion on aviation sustainability mostly revolves around issues such as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from aircraft and the effect of airport noise on the surroundings. Recent years have seen some major technological advances in the field of aviation. The global aviation industry produces around 2% of all human-induced CO2 emissions. However, It is projected that aviation emissions will be around 70% higher in 2020 as compared to 2005 levels.

ICAO Assembly is comprised of all member states of ICAO and is held at least every three years. The 39th Assembly took place in Montreal last year. However, a decision to develop a global market based measure (GMBM) or engine emission standards to limit CO2 emissions was taken at the 38th Assembly. This took place in September 2013. Measures such as developing a comprehensive GMBM policy along with technological improvements in aircraft production and maintenance along with better engine design are currently key areas of focus for Ireland and EU.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is committed to developing air traffic related initiatives that can reduce the effect of aviation on the atmosphere. For example: Dublin Point Merge initiative, which was implemented in 2012 has almost eradicated the need of aircrafts being put into circular holding patterns at Dublin. They can now fly in Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs) to the main runway, thereby reducing excess fuel burn and CO2 emissions.

ENSURE project was introduced in 2009. The main aim of the project is to remove traditional air routes and introducing free airspace. Hence, airlines could fly point-to-point direct routes over Irish airspace using less fuel. Owing to this project, it has been estimated that in 2012 almost 14800 tonnes of fuel was saved. Furthermore, this resulted in 46800 tonnes of CO2 not being emitted.

The Need to Do More

Demand for air transport and the aviation industry in general is continually growing. ICAO, IAA and the airport authorities are continuously making efforts to achieve maximum sustainability. The industry can combat the situation by:

  • Avoid queuing aircraft with engines running on the ground as well as in the air,
  • Operating more fuel-efficient aircrafts,
  • Optimising the available capacity of the aircraft,
  • Generating more direct routes,
  • Investing in satisfactory research, training, awareness & education,
  • Avoiding incompatible regulations & policies.





Air Transport Action Group

Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport




The Telegraph

Aviation Industry , Environment , Environmental Impacts , Greenhouse Gases , Sustainability , Sustainability in Aviation Industry
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