The lecture will first address and review how global aviation impacts on the atmosphere and, especially, how it contributes to global warming.
Whilst the issue of CO2 emissions is well known, less well known are the effects of NOX and contrail-induced cirrus. The magnitude of the problem, the timescales and possible mitigation methods will be assessed and discussed. In this context, contrail-induced cirrus is of particular interest, since new research is suggesting that this may well be aviation’s largest single contribution to global warming.
Having outlined the challenge, attention will turn to aircraft design and, specifically, the extent to which the manufacturer has control over fuel efficiency and the propensity for contrail formation. This is a new and comprehensive, physics-based model of the civil transport aircraft. The impact of currently proposed, high-risk technologies will be assessed and their likely impact on aviation’s impact on climate change estimated.
Finally, consideration will be given to the operating environment, including airport design and ATM. Here the key questions are: "Is there much wastage in the system?” and, if so: "Who owns the problem and what should be done to resolve it?”
Cambridge University Engineering Department,