Global environmental mapping of the aeronautics manufacturing sector

Eleonore Pierrat*, Lea Rupcic, Michael Z. Hauschild, Alexis Laurent

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

The aeronautics sector has been regarded as an important contributor to environmental problems, due to aircraft fuel consumption and combustion emissions. Little is known about the other parts of the value chain, in particular the aircraft manufacturing. The complexity of aircraft systems and the lack of public data have prevented analysis of disaggregated contributions of the value chain to key environmental problems - analysis that could provide valuable insight to reduce environmental impacts. We have addressed this knowledge gap by developing a new mapping method to quantify the environmental burden of the aeronautics manufacturing sector. The mapping builds on environmental databases and available market data representing 84% of the sector’s sales in 2017. Our mapping results show that material production and aircraft manufacturing consumed 69.5 TWh energy, emitted 18.1 MtCO2e, and withdrew 475 million m3 water, with the largest contributions stemming from airframe manufacturers and aluminium alloy production. Carbon emissions predominantly occur in the manufacturing stage while water withdrawals mainly originate from the material production. These findings demonstrate the relevance of adopting a life cycle perspective, covering the entire value chain, and the importance of ensuring a broad coverage of environmental problems to obtain a comprehensive view of the sector’s environmental impacts. Based on our findings, we provide decision-makers in the aeronautics sector with specific recommendations to prioritize their actions and steer towards a more environmentally sustainable industry.
Original languageEnglish
Article number126603
JournalJournal of cleaner production
Volume297
Number of pages13
ISSN0959-6526
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Sustainability
  • Aircraft
  • Life cycle
  • Carbon footprint
  • Water withdrawals
  • Energy requirement

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