Cambridge Uni leads team to develop simulator for net zero flights

It has announced the launch of an international group of experts in aerospace, economics, policy and climate science, building the simulator to help achieve one of the world’s biggest decarbonisation challenges

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The University of Cambridge is leading a team that is developing an interactive evidence-based simulator to help achieve net zero flights.

It has announced the launch of the Aviation Impact Accelerator (AIA) – an international group of experts in aerospace, economics, policy and climate science who are building the simulator to explore scenarios for achieving one of the world’s biggest decarbonisation challenges – net zero flights.

The simulator will capture the whole aviation sector, from renewable electricity sources and raw materials to fuel production and transport and the introduction of new aircraft technologies and operations.

Users will be able to simulate future scenarios to 2050 and calculate the resource requirements such as renewable electricity and land use, climate impacts, CO2 and non-CO2 and the cost of flying.

Options include the type of energy used, such as hydrogen, batteries and a range of sustainable aviation fuels, the type of aircraft and aircraft technologies and the way the planes are operated.

Clare Shine, Director of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) said: “International travel helps people and societies connect.

“To retain this opportunity for future generations, we must urgently address aviation’s environmental impact as part of systemic decarbonisation of the economy. This calls for imaginative and inclusive innovation, which is why the Aviation Impact Accelerator brings together insight from industry, policy and civil society.”

The AIA team includes the Air Transportation Systems Lab at University College London and the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne.

It is in partnership with HRH The Prince of Wales’s Sustainable Markets Initiative, The World Economic Forum, Cambridge Zero, MathWorks and SATAVIA and is supported by industry advisors Rolls-Royce, Boeing, BP, Heathrow and Siemens Energy.

John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow Airport added: “The Aviation Impact Accelerator will play a vital role in highlighting the action required to achieve net zero aviation and support Heathrow to ensure 2019 is our year of ‘peak carbon’.

“The first priority is accelerated use of sustainable aviation fuel. Government can act to unlock SAF through a mandate stimulating supply, plus incentives to drive demand. The prize is a new British growth industry and UK leadership in the race to net zero.”