The largest nation on Earth is flying more people more places than ever before. Its struggle to do so without (further) destroying the environment could show the rest of the world a greener way to travel
Posted 05.08.2012 at 10:01 am
The Path Not (Yet) Taken:
China Takes Off: Path: Peter and Mary Hoey
Increasingly refined navigation techniques have made landing patterns more efficient. The sweeping radar-guided path is the one most airplanes have flown at most airports in the world through the past half-century. The RNAV (for “area navigation”) approach relies on GPS and is closer and more efficient than radar guidance from controllers—but still not quite direct. The RNP (“required navigation performance”) path is the flight performance that new software and autopilots already make possible at most airports. Finally, the Optimized RNP path shows what is possible at the airports that have been most
carefully instrumented and set up with the approaches mapped to their precise geographic and urban setting.
Zero Net Emissions by 2050?:
China Takes Off: Emissions: Peter and Mary Hoey
As flights increase in China, India and the Persian Gulf region, carbon emissions will rocket past 2009’s already troubling baseline. Replacing older, heavier planes with newer models [the red bar] and improving routing and other air-traffic-management procedures [gray bar] could cut the rate of growth in half by 2050. But using aviation biofuels [green bar] made from CO2
-eating algae could do more than reduce the rate of growth. If production systems are put in place (and if they actually work), it could reduce net carbon emissions to a rate that is actually lower than that of 2009.
James Fallows is the author of China Airborne, which will be published by Pantheon this month.