Circular economy

The 4R’s of the circular economy concept (Redesign, Repair, Reuse, Recycle) consider the complete lifecycle of a product from production to disposal with the objective of an efficient use of resources and a reduction in waste.

In March 2020, the European Commission adopted the new circular economy action plan [22] , including initiatives on the entire lifecycle of products within the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy. From an aviation perspective, this involves the development of smart aeronautical products that consider sustainable life-cycle management during the initial design stage. Research on this topic is being taken forward within the SUSTAINAIR project [23] , where EASA is providing advice on certification and regulatory aspects to reduce the time needed to bring these new technologies to the market.

Components representing on average 85% to 90% of an aircraft’s weight are currently either recertified by an approved maintenance organisation as safe for reuse as spare parts or their material is recycled, while two manuals are currently available to ensure that best practices are applied in this process [24] [25] .

EASA Environmental Labelling

European citizens and passengers wish to be informed about the environmental footprint of their flights and make sustainable choices29. However, the figures of CO2 emissions provided to passengers by various booking sites for their flight can vary by a factor of 2 to 5. Consequently, citizens have no verified and consistent source of information to make informed sustainable travel choices. The credibility of industry ‘green claims’ are also often questioned as regards environmental performance and carbon compensation schemes. In order to address this, the European Commission, EU Parliament, and Member States mandated EASA to develop Environmental Labelling for the aviation system as part of the Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy, with an initial technical delivery of the programme by the end of 2022 and further updates to be implemented in a phased approach. The programme is being closely coordinated with related European Commission initiatives including the Green Claims, Sustainable Products and CountEmissionsEU.

The labelling system aims to provide transparency on the environmental footprint at a flight level through a distinct score based on CO2 emissions per passenger and flight, which is discounted by SAF emissions reductions and relies on actual fuel burn data. Online Travel Agencies and Global Distribution Systems have joined the programme to facilitate digital distribution of this information. It will also consider an airline label that tracks the airline path towards sustainable aviation through multiple stages with a mix of indicators to document continuous improvement in line with Green Deal and Paris Agreement objectives. Finally, an aircraft label will be based on EASA certified data for CO2, noise, and engine emissions. In order to allow intermodal comparisons and future technologies, this methodology is being expanded to include the full life-cycle emissions of the aircraft.

293 out of 4 European citizens would like an environmental label for aviation, according to a representative survey conducted by EASA in October 2020 with 9000+ respondents from 18 European countries.