Aviation currently accounts for around 2.5% of carbon emissions around the world. Our historic aircraft were built many decades ago using the technology and standards of the time, so our opportunities to reduce their carbon emissions are limited. The Historic Army Aircraft Flight has therefore been investigating how we can mitigate the carbon produced by our flying and operational activities, whilst ensuring that we continue to work to best advice from recognised industry bodies.
The Flight is extremely proud to announce that in 2022 we achieved our target of net zero carbon emissions. We care about the incredible communities we serve and live in and we want to keep them healthy and beautiful for generations to come. Our goal now is to be the most sustainable aviation charity.
A Carbon Neutral Britain
The Historic Army Aircraft Flight has chosen to work with Carbon Neutral Britain to directly offset the carbon emissions that we produce, and we have recently received our certification.
“In the immortal words of Sir David Attenborough, “Preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, it’s the only home we’ve ever known!” We firmly believe in those words and are proud to partner with Carbon Neutral Britain to offset our carbon footprint. This partnership plants 30 trees in the UK and around the world, achieving 5 tonnes of carbon offset every month. All of the offsetting projects use carbon credits purchased through United Nations Certified Emission Reductions programmes. One step at a time, we will do our part to reduce climate change and cherish our wonderful planet.” Rich Pillans, Chief Exec of the Historic Army Aircraft Flight.
The Historic Flight regularly participates in air display activities and we embrace the British Air Display Association’s (BADA) environmental sustainability charter.
BADA’s approach is wider than purely the carbon emissions produced by our display flying activities. It also covers passenger travel, a reduction in single use items and ensures that our contractors are in line with our green approach.
The Environmental Challenges
There are a number of unique challenges faced by operators of historic aircraft.
Removing barriers to flight
We are very keen to use our carbon offsetting to demonstrate that we are a responsible organisation and that people can fly with us as passengers without further damaging the environment. We therefore always ask our passengers and partners to be environmentally considerate of their own carbon footprint.
Innovation for the future
The Flight’s largest source of green house gas emissions impacting our climate comes from our use of traditional jet and piston engine fuel. Apart from offsetting our carbon footprint, there is little else we can do at this time to reduce the emissions caused by our flying operations. However, industry advancements in this field will hopefully see us eventually transitioning to a more environmentally friendly and sustainable fuel.
Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is an alternative to fossil fuels, emitting up to 80% less carbon on a lifecycle basis. As the cleanest fuel substitute for traditional jet fuel, SAF is the fastest and most effective way to reduce Green House Gas emissions.
In the past, battlefield reconnaissance was typically conducted by Army aeroplanes and helicopters. Although these proved to be very effective, advancements in technology have allowed the British Army to operate electric drones, such as the Desert Hawk III, with more types about to be introduced into service.
These environmentally friendly and highly effective platforms safely gain intelligence of the area of conflict and provide an exciting future for those embarking on a military career.