Aviation Communication Tools and Climate Change

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The aviation industry contributes significantly to the climatic changes that are experienced across the world. The contribution may be directly through emission of gases from aircrafts or indirectly through the dependence on activities like mining of fuels which depletes the environment leading to climatic changes. In view of this role, the aviation stakeholders have developed tools that aid the industry’s players to contribute to the conservation of the environment and stoppage of adverse climatic changes. Several tools of communication have been developed to target the public and stakeholders in the aviation industry to assist them in conserving the environment. This paper is an assessment of aviation communication tools and the impact that they have on climate change.

Keywords: aviation, climate change, communication, aircraft, airworthiness, policy decisions

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The role of aviation industry in the development of modern societies cannot be overemphasized. Aviation industry is the driving force behind globalization as it enables people and goods, from different countries and continents, to move from one place to another. Thus, aviation is at the centre of modern civilization. Social and economic development cannot be achieved without it. It is a necessity that contemporary transport sector must embrace to higher scales to realize the objectives and goals of social and economic development. Despite important roles that the aviation industry plays in realization of these developments, observers and critics argue that aviation is at the centre of environmental depletion and destruction. The argument is based on the fact that the industry increases emission of hydrocarbons in the atmosphere. The gases are responsible for the adverse climatic changes like global warming and flooding (Larsen, Sweeney & Gillick, 2012). In this paper the aviation communication tools and the impact that they have on the environment will be assessed.

The Aviation Industry

The aviation industry is dominated by aircrafts as tools of communication. The movement of aircrafts from one airport to the other has become the most convenient mode of transport that people use nowadays. For an aircraft needs fuel in order to move from one place to the other. Therefore, the sector has invested heavily in technologies including oil exploration and mining of hydrocarbons to ensure a continued flow of fuel to keep aircrafts in the air. As such, the aviation industry contributes largely to the persistent exploration and mining of fuels to meet the needs of the industry. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Synthesis Report, water security challenges are expected to intensify in the next two decades. The environmental destruction resulting from human activity is projected to occur in ecologically rich sites across the world. This is a result of the continued adverse human activities including deforestation and mining activities that have led to the increasing global warming and greenhouse effects in the atmosphere (Florio, 2010).

In view of the imminent danger that faces the environment as a result of aviation activities, the Federal Aviation Administration, in collaboration with other agencies and stakeholders, have developed state of the art tools that help in the assessment and communication of the environmental effects resulting from aviation activities. In the effort, the tools developed focus on establishing a new capability to assess the relationship and interdependencies between fuel burn, emissions, and aviation related noise. The target is to provide a comprehensive impact and cost-benefit evaluation. Its major aim is informing the environmental policy making from airlines and other stakeholders in the aviation industry on the relationship between the industry and the environment. Among the tools used in aviation to assess the impact that aviation activities have on the environment is the Aviation Environmental Design Tool. It comprises of the integration of existing and original aviation noise and emissions. This helps in providing analytical modules in the assessment of the relationship of aviation effects and the environment (Pelton, Jakhu & Sgobba, 2010).

The other communication tool in aviation, which is used to analyse the effect of aviation activities on the environment, is the Aviation Environmental Portfolio Management Tool. It uses the economic and environmental responses as well as the evaluation of modules. It is based on the information which is provided by AEDT and EDS. The tool is used to evaluate common and transparent methodologies to coordinate aviation and environment policy development. The environmental design space develops performance and fuel burn to give characteristics of the aircraft. The simplified model, developed by the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Environment and Energy, is used to assess numerous environmental policies which are enacted by several players. The APMT-Impacts Climate Model helps in reducing the order of relationships as a way of estimating the impact of aviation activities on the environment.

However, while it is agreeable that communication tools used in the aviation industry are increasingly gaining prominence in supporting policy options, they do not eliminate the effects that the aviation industry has on the environment. The aviation industry continues to negatively impact on the climate by way of chemical and physical processes which have spatial variation. This heterogeneity is not reflected in the average models. The tools that are available do not also provide solutions in areas of changing atmosphere in the future. Thus, they can hardly change the impacts that aviation has on the climate. Communication tools do not also provide solutions to the non-linear interactions on the environmental effects posed by different aviation and non-aviation on the environment. Aviation communication tools have also failed to reflect the variable impact on the emissions in relation to the latitude and altitude such as changing flight patterns over time (Department of Defense Noise Working Group, 2009).

In addition, aircrafts carry people from one place to the other through space. In the last 20 years in the history of the aviation industry, there have been many fatal aircraft accidents that caused the loss of lives of many people. The importance of having an airworthy aircraft in space is so that the safety of the passengers is guaranteed and the aircraft does not pose any danger to the environment in which it operates. In the regulations by EASA, the owner of the aircraft is responsible for the continuing proper aviation practices that will preserve the environment in which he/she operates. Operators in the aviation industry have the mandate to adhere to the regulations and laws in the jurisdiction in which they operate. Thus, they must ensure that all flights taking place from their jurisdiction meet the minimum requirements of maintained airworthy conditions. The airlines should have all correctly fitted operational and emergency equipment. The owner must also ensure that the validity of airworthiness certificate is upheld and maintenance done in relation with specified requirements.

According to EASA, continuing airworthiness is defined as, “… all of the processes ensuring that, at any time in its operating life, the aircraft complies with the airworthiness requirements in force and is in a condition for safe operation” (Europe Aviation Safety Agency, 2013). The same regulatory body defines maintenance as “… any one or a combination of overhaul, repair, inspection, replacement, modification or defect rectification of an aircraft or component, with the exception of pre-flight inspection”. These definitions are important in general understanding of the aircraft maintenance process. They indicate how different factors come into play during the crucial and important process of maintaining an aircraft.

The maintenance process is an important feature in the airworthiness management process. It forms the basic element of concern for most regulators. The aircraft maintenance process must thus include a schedule of maintenance tasks which must be well documented with descriptive management procedures that highlight the process of maintaining an aircraft. Thus, the scheduled maintenance process must be managed by an expert in aircraft maintenance to ensure that the process adheres to the laid down rules and procedures. The management part in the aircraft maintenance process is of uttermost importance because without it, the scheduled tasks of maintaining an aircraft will not give the intended results in the future.

The information on proper handling of aircraft maintenance process is contained in different documents. It means that a person intending to carry out an aircraft maintenance process must have prior knowledge on the sources of the necessary information regarding the management and execution of a maintenance process. This should be especially applied in the commercial aircrafts where regulations are highly valued. The provision for the management and control of aircraft maintenance process is found in the Part M. A. 302 of the European Aviation Safety Agency standards. Specifically, maintenance Program Approval is found in Subpart G under the organization.

The aircraft maintenance, which is mainly aimed to ensure that the aircraft is airworthy, must be enforced by the authority that is overseeing the safety standards of the aircraft in question as per the place of registration of that aircraft. The process of aircraft maintenance is deemed terminated upon the issuance of a Certificate of Airworthiness or Fly Permit issued by the regulating bodies. It helps ensure that the aircraft is in a good and safe condition to fly. Therefore, it is upon the aircraft owners to ensure that the renewal of the Certificate of Airworthiness is done within the required period. During this time, an aircraft maintenance session is undertaken before the issuance of the new certification (Federal Research Partnership Workshop, 2002).

Certification is important, an aircraft cannot be allowed to fly without it. As such, the aircrafts wishing to fly in foreign space will be required to make prior application for certification before they are allowed to fly in the said space. The aircrafts’ maintenance process is thus faced with a number of legal requirements. This might cause the process of maintaining an aircraft to be not only time consuming but also expensive. The four types of maintenance, sometimes called checks, have different durations depending on the number of hours that the aircraft has flown. The checks are invariably called A, B, C, and D depending on the flight time. A check is the lightest while D check may involve the entire dismantling of external and internal parts of the aircraft (International Civil Aviation Organization Report, 2009).

Commission Regulation (EC) No 2042/2003 of 20 November 2003 highlights on the continuing airworthiness of an aircraft and products to be used in the maintenance. It also highlights on the approval requirements. The personnel involved in the process of maintenance outlines the available maintenance process requirements in the European airspace. Under this continuing airworthiness is a connotation of best practices in the aircraft maintenance contained in the Regulation (EC) 2042/2003. Depending on the kind of maintenance that the owner wants to carry out on the aircraft, the European Aviation Safety Agency requires that particular fees and charges must be met for the purposes of certification. This is contained in the Fees & Charges Regulation (EC) N0 593/2007 which was adapted by the European Commission in 2007. The information contained in fees and charges requirements schedules is meant to lead the maintenance officer of the financial requirements. The officers are obliged to give it to the regulator before the commencement of the aircraft maintenance process (Geenhuizen, Reggiani & Rietveld, 2012).

Part M is an important section in the Commission Regulation contained in the annex I. The section has a number of subparts ranging from A to I. Part M deals with the crucial airworthiness and continuing airworthiness requirements and specification of an aircraft flying the space under the jurisdiction of EASA. This part is the most important in the regulation of the airline industry. It involves the controlling processes that will ensure that the aircraft meets the minimum set standards for a safer flying in a given space. Pat M highlights the financial obligations that aircraft owners have to meet as part of the deal for certification. It also provides the legal and professional requirement for maintenance officers.

As a section that deals mainly with the airworthiness of the aircrafts, Part M has numerous subsections such as M.302 which deals with the aircraft maintenance process and M.A. 303 which deals with the airworthiness directives. Moreover, data concerning modification and repair procedures are contained in the subsection M.A. 304. It also outlines the necessary steps that maintenance managers must follow before making modifications or any repairs on the aircrafts. Generally, Part M outlines the requirements for the implementation of airworthiness and the practice of continuing airworthiness by aircraft operators. It also outlines the procedures involved in the airworthiness process of management and the legal and financial requirements. The financial requirements include fees and relevant charges that the owner must meet so that to receive certification of operating an aircraft within a given space. Among the elements contained in Part M, it includes the application procedures, the extent of approval, and continuing airworthiness management exposition. It also includes facilities, personnel requirements, airworthiness review staff, continuing airworthiness management, and documentation (Flouris & Yilmaz, 2012).

Communication tools used in aviation must also provide an opportunity for the aviation stakeholders to exercise prudence in caring for the environment. The cost of ensuring that activities are within the confines of environmental conservation is borne by the operator. The ability of an aircraft owner to operate the aircraft profitably within environmental safety requirements is a key concern in the airworthiness certification. The aim of promoting and supporting airworthiness by regulatory bodies like EASA is to ensure that the air travel is environmentally friendly and organized. It also ensures that the air travel meets the high standards in the aircraft operation industry.

The onus of ensuring that the safety standards are adhered to and maintained rests with the owner of the aircraft. This can be an expensive undertaking. However, it is a worthwhile course because the safety of the passengers, especially in commercial aircrafts, is a core component of business for aircraft owners. Furthermore, having an organized operation permeates existential safety in the operation of an aircraft. The main concern of regulatory bodies like EASA is to reinforce the safety standards by outlining best practices in the aircraft maintenance process. Thus, it ensures that all operating aircrafts are safe. In light of the above factors, aircraft owners must look for ways to maintain the set of safety standards by regulatory bodies as a way of maximizing the profits while remaining environmentally conscious (Stillinger, 2012).

This requires that they must operate their aircrafts within the budget limits and is thus a call for proper planning and execution of operational costs. One way of ensuring this is to have competent and better qualified staff in the maintenance department. The staff should be able to ensure that the maintenance of aircrafts meets the outlined requirements in the continuing airworthiness documents. Airlines can also cut costs through efficient use of fuel. This is sometimes done through having fuel efficient aircrafts and aircrafts that have enough capacity to justify their operation in a given route. Aircraft owners can also shop out to find affordable shops for regular checks especially during D check which is sometimes expensive. In the UK, aircraft operators may operate their aircrafts within their budgets by ensuring that their aircrafts have the original state of design in EASA format. They should also ensure that they meet the airworthiness directives and that their operators follow instructions for reporting continued airworthiness occurrences. Finally, their aircrafts should also be conversant with green protection data and operate within the regulatory limits.

Personal Views on Aviation Communication Tools and Climate Change

I agree with the need for the aviation operators to devise better ways to participate in the conservation of the environment. The airlines should, through their social corporate responsibilities, engage in activities that are aimed at enabling proper management of the environment. This can be done by contributing to the activities geared toward conservation of the environment. Though, the climatic changes that take place are results of human activities such as mining, the operation of aircrafts contributes to the emission of gases in the atmosphere. It may not be easy to quantify independently the contribution percentage of the aviation industry to the destruction of the environment. However, the industry must live to the fact that the aviation industry plays a significant role in destroying the environment.

In fact, it is due to the urgency in the environment conservation that there have been numerous communication tools developed by various agencies in the aviation industry to deal with issues of climatic change. However, the challenge is that, each country seems to have a set of its own rules and regulations to deal with climatic changes caused by the aviation industry. As such, there is a disconnection in adhering to the policies as air operators normally operate across jurisdictions. There is a need for any one given communication tool in the aviation industry with regard to climate change to identify direct, indirect as well as induced economic impacts that are associated with the operation of an aircraft in a holistic manner.

This will help in creating a uniform approach to the problem of climatic change. It will also help create a common front on which all aviation players draw their inspiration in conserving the environment and fighting negative climatic changes. It could also help in developing an online economic calculator and basic economic data sets that build on an integrated approach within the available Aviation Information Systems. I agree with Florio (2010) that such dynamic tools can make it possible for everyone in the industry to learn about the characteristics of particular airports and economic as well as environmental impacts that their activities have within their operation area.

Furthermore, there is also a need to have a better assessment of the more broad intrinsic value created through aviation systems and the economic and environmental reliance of a robust and sustainable aviation sector. This should not be done in a single country but in a global perspective. The secret is to engage public and industry stakeholders in ensuring that the assessment process is based on their input. The process should also be built on the foundation of public and stakeholder goodwill. All the stakeholders must support the mechanisms and policies aimed at addressing the needs of the aviation industry in terms of supporting environmental conservation and elimination of adverse climatic changes. The aviation industry can also support other groups that contribute to environmental depletion such as factories.

It can be done through education and informational sessions that encourage them to come on board and participate in the conservation of the environment. This way, the aviation industry players will not be the only ones to develop communication tools to address climate change whereas their contribution to environmental depletion is negligible. They will be able to have an impact on the massive activities of other sectors like manufacturing and agriculture. For instance, a need for fuel is not a preserve of the aviation industry. The motor industry also depends on fuel just as much, if not greater than the aviation industry. I thus agree with MacDonald (2011) that any communication tools which are developed must incorporate all sectors that contribute to the environmental destruction if the climatic changes are to be controlled.


Aviation industry has become engraved in the social and economic lives of people around the world. The role that aviation industry plays in enhancing human development cannot be overemphasized. However, aviation activities bring about climate change. Thus, there has been a widespread discussion on the international arena on how to bring stakeholders in the aviation industry to the realization that their operations lead to adverse climate change. Therefore, such agencies as the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Federal Aviation Administration Office of Environment and Energy have come up with tools to assist the industry players in adapting environment-friendly practices. Such actions are motivated by the increasing global warming and flooding along the costal lines. The aviation industry, through its players like airlines and other bodies, has become aware of the contribution of the industry to climate change. This occurs either directly or indirectly. Thus, the industry has come up with initiatives that aim at directing communication to the relevant entities in an attempt to help conserve the environment.

Among the tools that are emphasized in ensuring the conservation of the environment is the need for certification of airworthiness of an aircraft before it is allowed to fly. This is not only a safety measure but also an environmental one. It ensures that emissions are kept to the minimum level. The essence of developing communication tools in the aviation industry is to enable public and industry players exercise prudence in their operation as a way of conserving the environment and averting adverse climate change. However, the impact of such tools can only be realized if all interested parties participate in the conservation of the environment. The regulatory agencies have the responsibility of providing rules, guidelines, and policies that ensure proper practice of operations by the aviation industry players. Such rules should also ensure that their activities do not impact the environment through negative climate changes. Other industries like agriculture, mining, and motor vehicles, which also have a significant contribution to the negative climate change, must be incorporated alongside aviation in ensuring the conservation of the environment.