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Science News

FAA Plans to Clean Up the Skies 249

Posted by samzenpus
from the fly-the-clean-and-friendly-skies dept.
coondoggie writes "On top of its recently announced plan to reduce flight delays, Federal Aviation Administration officials today launched what they hope will be pan U.S. and European Union joint action plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft. Specifically the group announced the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions or AIRE — the first large-scale environmental plan aimed at uniting aviation players from both sides of the Atlantic."
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FAA Plans to Clean Up the Skies

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  • Lead In Fuels? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What about the lead thats in General Aviation Fuel? Are they doing anything to reduce that?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by scatters (864681)
      More to the point, are they doing anything to reduce the price of avgas..?

      Seriously though, the biggest problem with avgas is the huge 'install base', which - if you replace TEL with ethanol which absorbs moisture and can cause rusting of fuel lines, etc - tends to fall out of the sky, rather than break down by the side of the road.
      Many high performance aviation engines require higher octane gasoline than is available in motor gasoline form, although a number of lower compression engines which were original
    • Re:Lead In Fuels? (Score:5, Informative)

      by TopSpin (753) * on Thursday June 21, 2007 @01:13AM (#19590985) Journal

      What about the lead thats in General Aviation Fuel? Are they doing anything to reduce that?
      To be clear; the fuel burned by jets is not leaded. This accounts for the vast bulk of aviation fuel consumption. Leaded fuel is used by most piston engined aircraft.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Fuel should be leaded! When I smell those sweet vapors in teh Arizona sky I silently sing our anthem and think of soaring eagles! I'm sick and tired of atheist demon-crats insisting on "clean" fuel. It's downright un-American. I bet you're one of those lie-brul hippies who likes to "cycle" [shelleytherepublican.com] or use communist [shelleytherepublican.com] software [shelleytherepublican.com]!

        Shame on you! Nutjobs like you probably want Al Gore and the terrorists to win!
        • Re:Lead In Fuels? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Gordonjcp (186804) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @06:38AM (#19592475) Homepage
          Fuel should be leaded!

          Indeed it should. We'd be a lot better off without the filthy menace of unleaded petrol pumping benzene vapours into the atmosphere. Lead is toxic - massively toxic in certain compounds (lead acetate was what did in the Romans, from making a sweet by boiling wine in lead pots), but practically inert in the form that comes out of petrol engine exhausts. Furthermore, the lead carbonate that you get mostly settles out on the first 18" or so of exhaust pipe.

          By comparison, unleaded petrol uses benzene instead of tetraethyl lead as an anti-knock agent, which is highly toxic and carcinogenic. Then on top of that we've got the eco-disaster that is catalytic converters, belching out dense clouds of hydrogen sulphide unless they're run at extremely high exhaust gas temperatures - which produces massive amounts of nitrogen oxides. By a nasty little quirk, catalytic converters make car exhaust *more* polluting when driven at low speeds (such as in towns, where they'd be most useful) than when driven at motorway speeds.
    • Yes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by BBCWatcher (900486) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @01:14AM (#19590989)

      There has been literally decades of research, and research is ongoing. There's no single good answer. High compression piston aircraft engines may be able to run on fuels with other additives, but all the reformulations discovered so far are much more toxic than the current 100LL formulation.

      Some of the technical solutions include shipping 100LL without the lead (which mid-compression engines can probably run OK), electronic ignition systems, and diesel (jet fuel) retrofit with new engines. Whole new, small aircraft, particularly from Diamond Aircraft, run on Jet-A. The lead additive (TEL) is getting more expensive, so price is encouraging some movement in this direction anyway, particularly outside the U.S.

      It's important to keep some perspective here, though. The amount of lead released into the atmosphere by piston aircraft engines is incredibly miniscule, and it's not released in the ways automobiles did (i.e. near the ground, in lung-concentrated ways). There are about 5,000 public airports in the U.S., and the vast majority of those have very limited numbers of aircraft operating on the ground for very brief periods of time. So unless you live on a taxiway at a busy small aircraft airport, and breathe deeply for some years, you're OK.

      There are many, many places where environmental protection money would be more wisely spent. The simple act of burning coal, for example, is incredibly, vastly more dangerous than anything the entire piston aircraft engine fleet could do. That said, it would probably make sense for the government to give the engine industry (mainly Lycoming and Continental) a bit of a nudge, telling them to find any solution they wish to stop producing new aircraft engines that run only on leaded fuels by a date certain (say, 10 years out). In all probability they can recertify with a combination of electronic ignition and the same 100LL formulation but without TEL, and they can do that relatively inexpensively. If the feds made every aircraft owner who replaced their engines eligible for fuel tax rebates for a period of, say, 5 years from date of installation, that'd probably get the job done to get the fleet converted. But nobody is in a rush to do this because nobody at the EPA sees a public health problem here.

      • Re:Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

        by GooberToo (74388) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @08:22AM (#19593365)
        In all probability they can recertify with a combination of electronic ignition and the same 100LL formulation but without TEL, and they can do that relatively inexpensively. If the feds made every aircraft owner who replaced their engines eligible for fuel tax rebates for a period of, say, 5 years from date of installation, that'd probably get the job done to get the fleet converted. But nobody is in a rush to do this because nobody at the EPA sees a public health problem here.

        But its a catch-22. Aviation piston engines cost anywhere from $18,000 - $60,000 to replace, as is. No tax rebate is going to cover the cost of engine replacement; especially once you add in the cost of a newly certified engine technology. Certifying an engine with the FAA easily costs $1,000,000 and up. Because the FAAs moto is, "We're not happy unless you're not happy", they keep various technologies unavailable simply because the price for entry is far, far too high, despite it being a proven technology. Worse, most of their regulations are based about 1940s and 1950s technology assumptions; as that's the technology base most of the guys that created the regulations could relate to. The Beech Starship is a classic example. They truly innovated but the FAA tied them up with red tape for so long during the certification process, it was cheaper for Beech to buy back every plane and DESTROY THEM than it was to hope they could make their money back on their investment.

        Heck, manual adjustment of the air/fuel mixture is common place in GA. Something as common as fuel injection is still considered a big step up and the fuel inject is decades behind what is commonly found in cars. And, even with fuel injection, manual control of the air/fuel mixture is still the norm.

        Another example is something as simple as a clock. The FAA regulations require a certified clock (think of time/distance navigation where time is very important for safe operation). That made sense during the 1940s and 1950s when a precise time piece was uncommon. Likewise, it made sense as a clock to be mounted is required to maintain accuracy with various vibration and pressure changes, and would be hard to find back then. These days, the FAA certified clocks cost hundreds of dollars yet are less accurate, BY FAR, than what most people can pick up for $5 bucks at the local dollar store. Some of the old certified clocks will actually lose a minute or more over a four hour flight. And they can get worse with age. Worse yet, they are renowned for their unreliability. As a result, most pilots violate the regulations because they want something that is accurate, safe, and reliable rather than something that is certified. And yes, the FAA does ding people for using something that is safe and reliable rather than something that is certified.

        Long story short, the ONLY thing preventing piston airplanes from becoming faster, cheaper, safer, and more environmentally friendly is the FAA. If the goverment would clean house and restructure the FAA, forcing them to revamp their certification process, the world of air travel would be a much, much better place.

    • by Alioth (221270)
      Unfortunately, most of that is caused by bureaucratic inertia.

      Aircraft piston engines and fuel systems must be certified by the FAA. Most of the engines themselves (pretty much anything normally aspirated) does not require lead, they are so far away from their detonation margins. In many engines and fuel systems, it's really just a case of paperwork bureaucracy stopping them. It's so incredibly expensive to certify a plane for unleaded use that no one will do it.

      There are other problems too. Most piston air
  • by Spazntwich (208070) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @12:16AM (#19590727)
    is getting insane. With China the new carbon dioxide emissions leader [telegraph.co.uk] we need to focus on finding actual new sources of energy. You know, so China will have some economic incentive to stop polluting so much, not that it would hurt for the USA to cut its emissions drastically as well.

    We need to face facts: Assuming the global climate is as fragile as all of the chicken littles claim, the US and Europe ceasing all greenhouse emissions right now would do nothing to save us from our gradual slide into superhurricane seasons and worldwide desert conditions, simply because India and China are still developing and couldn't give two shits about all of our initiatives if any cost them money.

    I'm still waiting on a testable model (no, not a replica of the globe, trolls) before I jump on this "global warming is both horrible and human-mediated" that so many people seem to have blindly latched onto, drawing absurd conclusions after equating correlation with causation and screaming as shrilly as the most terrifying of harpies when someone expresses so much as a single iota of skepticism at their grand new movement.

    My point is this: Cutting our planes' emissions will do nothing but place further financial strains on us, leading to a relative inability to compete with other countries less concerned about the illusory monster of global warming. In addition to this, it will do nothing to make a marked decrease in our own production of carbon dioxide and other gases.

    This is more government micromanagement that will do nothing but further bring us down.
    • by EaglemanBSA (950534) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @12:24AM (#19590769)
      I agree that we need vastly more information than we currently have, and further agree that I don't think the government should be micromanaging like this, but what if some companies found it profitable to do so on their own (fuel optimizations, etc.)?

      Surely there is much yet to discover about our planet and the way it works, and I agree that emissions standards must be scrutinized with respect to their economic impacts...I feel that the knee-jerk reaction Al Gore seems to be trying to illicit is not in our best interests economically, but I don't see any harm in people/companies trying to lessen our impact on the world around us...unless it means killing industry as we know it. There must be a balance of some sort.
      • I'm all for the free market and have no issues with anyone voluntarily attempting to decrease their impact.

        If people find a way to make money off going green, more power to them, as it certainly won't hurt anything. My problem comes in when the government steps in like they have here. We all know what paves the road to hell, generic idioms, etc.
        • by salec (791463)
          There are cases for government to be helpful and even cases when government should intervene because only government has the power to do it.

          Former are the cases where there is benefit in problem solving for the problem makers, eliminating inefficiencies that are not under their own control, latter the cases where damage to everyone (to "none") is done because a few benefit from it and this benefit is dwarfed by the damage.

          This particular case is IMHO more of the former - establishing clever procedures to s
        • by Goaway (82658)
          we all know what paves the road to hell, generic idioms, etc.

          Maybe we do, but you know who paves the roads, period?
    • by _Sharp'r_ (649297) <sharper@@@booksunderreview...com> on Thursday June 21, 2007 @12:25AM (#19590773) Homepage Journal
      Happily for us, according to a Canadian climate scientist, based on the sunspot cycles, we're due for global cooling to start in 2020 [canada.com], so I wouldn't sweat it.

      So just maybe, if the "models" are accurate with regards to greenhouse gases, if we try really hard to produce more every year, we can reverse part of the eventual global cooling trend. Somehow I doubt that's likely.

      However, 15 years from now we'll have the FAA talking about their plan to increase greenhouse gas emissions from planes at the behest of the environmentalists and their allies in big oil who want to regulate people into not using so many alternative energy sources that don't produce enough carbon dioxide.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Spazntwich (208070)
        Sir, I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

        I look forward to being downmodded by the same kneejerk retarderators you will face.
      • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @01:16AM (#19591005)
        Freeman Dyson on Climate Models [umich.edu]
        The first of my heresies says that all the fluff about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of twilight model experts and the crowd of diluted citizens that believe the numbers predicted by their models. Of course they say I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak.

        But I have studied their climate models and know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics and do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields, farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world that we live in.

        The real world is muddy and messy and full of things that we do not yet understand. It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds. That's why the climate model experts end up believing their own models.

        There's no doubt that parts of the world are getting warmer, but the warming is not global. The warming happens in places and times where it is cold, in the arctic more than the tropics, in the winter more than the summer, at night more than the daytime.

        I'm not saying the warming doesn't cause problems, obviously it does. Obviously we should be trying to understand it. I'm saying that the problems are being grossly exaggerated. They take away money and attention from other problems that are much more urgent and important. Poverty, infectious diseases, public education and public health. Not to mention the preservation of living creatures on land and in the oceans.


        He also worked out a way to reverse global warming quite cheaply [ncpa.org].
        • by LarsWestergren (9033) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @01:55AM (#19591191) Homepage Journal
          Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of twilight model experts and the crowd of diluted citizens that believe the numbers predicted by their models. Of course they say I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak.

          Do I detect the smell of burning martyr? Let me guess, another one who takes scientific scrutiny of his claims as attempts at censorship.

          It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds.

          Lie, some countries have kept records of climate ever since the invention of the meteorological instruments in the 17th century [geo.uu.se], today we have over 7000 stations [noaa.gov] that measure land temperatures, we also use satellites [wikipedia.org] to measure sea levels, water and troposphere temperatures.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Hal_Porter (817932)
            Do I detect the smell of burning martyr? Let me guess, another one who takes scientific scrutiny of his claims as attempts at censorship.

            He's just got a sharp sense of humour. Mind you, looking at the immediate reaction of "he's not a true climatologist" I can see why.

            There is something scarily religious about people that really believe in global warming - that the earth is doomed unless we make sacrifices, or buy indulgences in the form of emissions trading permits.

            Personally, I don't know. And I reckon in
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Yoozer (1055188)

              There is something scarily religious about people that really believe in global warming - that the earth is doomed unless we make sacrifices, or buy indulgences in the form of emissions trading permits.

              It is possible to cut back without any economic disasters, if only for the sake of not wasting resources. The problem is that everyone will try to hold off doing anything at all (even minor savings) until the last moment. If we guessed right, we've saved resources. If we've guessed wrong, we'll still have sa

            • And I reckon in my life time the worst case rise of a degree or so is no biggie.

              Oh, the realistic worst case scenario as given by the IPCC is a lot worse than that. Both in the number of degrees increased, and the negative effects on economy and environment. I think we both argue that we should err on the side of caution, but my personal belief is that the evidence shows that doing nothing nothing is in fact going to be much more costly than doing something.

              >Hmm here's what Nasa say
              [...]
              The answer is no
              • The much quoted analysis of those graphs, which showed that the stratosphere was on average cooling, is most likely incorrect. And even if it were true that the stratosphere was cooling - so what. We don't live in second layer of Earth's atmosphere, and we don't grow our food there.

                Pfft, I should learn to read the articles I quote more carefully. They were talking about measurements of the troposphere all along, the inmost layer. I presume you just made a typo when you mentioned the stratosphere. The other
        • by dargaud (518470)
          As much as I like Dyson's other writing, he's full of shit when he says

          It is much easier for a scientist to sit in an air-conditioned building and run computer models than to put on winter clothes and measure what is really happening outside in the swamps and the clouds.

          I'm one of those guys who regularly put on winter clothes [gdargaud.net] to go perform atmospheric science measurements on the field. Modelists and field ops feed on each others. When a parameter in a model is too vague, new measurements are planned which

          • by ThosLives (686517)

            What I want to know is why the big models don't show "small" atmospheric features like hurricanes and thunderstorms? Those are massive energy dissipation systems that surely have an important impact. However, even hurricanes are features that are "too small" to be resolved by most of the global climate models - the smallest cell size I've seen is about 150km on a side. Usually hurricanes and storms are only modeled on the local level, based on the fact that the systems already exist; we still can't predict

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by TommyMc (949670)

          The first of my heresies says that all the fluff about global warming is grossly exaggerated. Here I am opposing the holy brotherhood of twilight model experts and the crowd of diluted citizens that believe the numbers predicted by their models. Of course they say I have no degree in meteorology and I am therefore not qualified to speak.

          Cry me a river.

          But I have studied their climate models and know what they can do. The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics and do a very good job of describing

      • by LarsWestergren (9033) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @02:08AM (#19591241) Homepage Journal
        Happily for us, according to a Canadian climate scientist, based on the sunspot cycles, we're due for global cooling to start in 2020, so I wouldn't sweat it.

        Sadly, this has also been refuted many times [realclimate.org].
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by vought (160908)
          Sadly, this has also been refuted many times [realclimate.org].

          I think the sad part is the parrots who think they're being rebels for regurgitating the same disproven theories over and over again.

          Often, when engaged in conversation, these rebel parrots make fun of Al Gore, so you'll know pretty quickly the real reason they have a problem with global warming science. It's more important for them to prove a person wrong than it is to review the facts objectively.
    • by MarkByers (770551) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @12:39AM (#19590853) Homepage Journal
      > With China the new carbon dioxide emissions leader

      The US is still winning by far if you look at emissions per capita, which is the more relevant figure. You would expect a country with twicce the population to give out about twice the emissions, everything else being equal.
      • Call me crazy, but (again) assuming carbon dioxide is the rancid poison to mother nature the greenies claim, I doubt she will care much about the per capita figures involved in the production of her demise.
        • by compro01 (777531)
          it's not the planet we need to be really concerned about. it'll still be here, spinning merrily, with other creatures on it.

          what we're concerned about is ourselves. rising water levels would be a rather nasty problem (think how many people live rather close to the coast), along with a rather unpleasant shift in the weather patterns, would foul things up rather severely.
          • Again, how is the per capita figure at all relevant then as anything beyond a "how bad we're doing" metric? It matters about as much as a Civic's horsepower per liter does compared to a Corvette.
        • No, but the per capita figure does change a lot when you're considering global limitations.

          How can you expect Chinese people to restrict themselves to lower energy consumption if they have a way lower output than a US citizen?
          It's as stupid as telling the US to limit itself to the absolute output of a much smaller country, say the UK.
          By the same reasoning, I could say "I hardly produce any CO2 compared to the entire country, so I don't have a problem"

          If you have any sense of fairness, the per capita output
      • Doesn't matter. Global Warning is indeed global, so national borders don't matter. All that matters is how much carbon is re-introduced into the carbon cycle, and how much CO2 is absorbed through photosynthesis.

        Per capita, national borders. Fuhgeddaboutit! This is a global problem.

        We basically need to do these things (and I'm sorry if I seen like a greenie nutcase, I'm not really one of those, but this is indeed serious business):
        1. Develop/build energy sources that don't destroy our habitat.
        2. Primarily cu
      • because China effectively has two populations, those in the present and all those 'out there'

        A large number of China's population will not become modernized within our lifetimes... but they apparently sure do well to keep the averages down when painting China's bad behaviour
      • by Misagon (1135)
        You could also argue that a huge part of the Chinese emissions are the fault of the people in the Western world.
        We want cheap goods, but we have stronger environmental and safety laws for manufacture of goods over here than they have.
        So before start blaming the Chinese, we should stop buying their stuff. It's the only control mechanism inherent in capitalism.
    • by LarsWestergren (9033) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @01:36AM (#19591099) Homepage Journal
      India and China are still developing and couldn't give two shits about all of our initiatives if any cost them money.

      Of course they will, if continuing emissions will in the long run be more expensive, and lead to a decrease in living standards.

      For instance - much of Asia gets it fresh water from snow melting in the mountain ranges during the summer. Last couple of years, less snow has fallen, and much of it melts during the winter. Then when spring and summer comes, and it is time to plant crops - droughts.

      I'm still waiting on a testable model (no, not a replica of the globe, trolls) before I jump on this "global warming is both horrible and human-mediated"

      Do you reject all science that doesn't have a complete testable model behind it? In science we can never be 100% sure about anything, but there are other ways to tackle a problem. For instance, we can discover that some gases absorb solar radiation better than others [wikipedia.org] (180 yrs ago), postulate that if this warms stuff on a small scale, perhaps it might also affect thing globally [wikipedia.org], (110 yrs ago) then we can discover that climate is really really complicated, and we can continue to examine interactions and say with increasing confidence over many decades that humans do in fact effect thing globally (too much to link to, sorry).

      that so many people seem to have blindly latched onto, drawing absurd conclusions after equating correlation with causation and screaming as shrilly as the most terrifying of harpies

      Yeah, you are clearly the rational and un-biased one here. ;)
    • by spectrokid (660550) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @01:56AM (#19591193) Homepage
      Is global warming going to kill us? No. Is it the end of civilization as we know it? No. But what is the cost of doing nothing? If you americans need to evacuate long island, who is going to pay indemnities? Who will decide which houses get protected by dikes and which ones are given up? Are you going to tell all these sea-side home owners "too bad, shouldn't have been driving that SUV around.."? Because if you do, I can't predict the climate, but I can predict the lawyers are going to be more busy than the engineers... This has NOTHING to do with tree-hugging. This is like choosing whether we pay for fire-insurance. We can choose to pay a little now, or run the risk of paying a hundred thousand times as much 30 years from now.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kmac06 (608921)
        No, this is like choosing to pay for hurricane insurance in the middle of Missouri.
    • by Biotech9 (704202) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @02:27AM (#19591353) Homepage
      Cutting our planes' emissions will do nothing but place further financial strains on us, leading to a relative inability to compete with other countries less concerned about the illusory monster of global warming.

      this is a ridiculous argument that keeps being brought up as a reason to defer or cancel any planned control of pollution.

      It's flawed in two ways. One, it presumes that any prevention of pollution benefits us only globally, if at all. That if we reduce our pollution by damaging our economy we do it to ward of the *possible* spectre of global warming, and that other nations that might ignore our work (thereby gaining an economic advantage) will damage the environment just as much as we would have done. This is ignoring the fact that pollution may end up being global, but it starts local. Countries with the strictest controls on pollution have the cleanest air, the cleanest water, the lowest incidences of environmental disasters. The benefits aren't that you *might* reduce global warming (if it exists or not), but that you *will* increase the quality of your citizens lives.

      Flaw number two, is that we will be damaged economically by reducing CO2 through legislation. For a start, the US has seen a decrease in CO2 per GDP dollar over the last few decades. Americans are making more money, and doing it cleaner. And it can't be blamed solely on the loss of manufacturing jobs from the US either, as Germany is the worlds largest exporter, and has a much lower pollution level per dollar of goods exported than the US or China.

      in the EU, where environmental legislation is toughest, CO2 per GDP is the lowest in the world. The top rankings show [wikipedia.org] that the countries with least CO2 per GDP are also those with highest productivity in the world. Norway and Luxembourg both have higher GDP per hour worked than the US and still manage to have much lower CO2 per GDP unit.

      The fact is, that it is ABSOLUTELY possible to have stricter pollution controls in place, and yet to be competitive with countries that do not comply to the same high standards.

      This is more government micromanagement that will do nothing but further bring us down.

      As a fellow living in one of the most micromanaged, government intrusive counties in the world, and also one of the richest, cleanest and with the highest standard of living in the world, I would like to say that it is clear to me the US could do with some more open government intervention and less supposedly invisible hand market control. If anything has bought the US down in the last decade, it's been corruption and abuse from large corporations not kept in check by government.
    • by cheezus_es_lard (557559) <cheez17@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Thursday June 21, 2007 @03:26AM (#19591615) Homepage
      What kills me about these arguments is pretty basic. IF there is an impact from our emissions on our planet, which MAY be negative, and which CAN be avoided, or perhaps lightened, by the decrease in output- why not decrease output? The economic argument is hogwash- these same companies (auto/truck manufacturers, jet engine/aircraft manufacturers) spend millions of dollars in R&D on their products; the spur of forced investment into this field will encourage economic growth, as this cutting edge field matures in whichever country pioneers it. In addition to creating an entire new sector, much as the Ethanol push has done in the USA, and while some companies may suffer, much as with the Prius and other hybrid cars, offering an alternative to the standard high emission models will appeal to some consumers and drive the development of this field and the advancement of technologies and the companies bringing them to market. Forced adoption of these technologies will further spur growth and investment. Again, while some incumbent companies may suffer due to their lack of foresight or corporate dexterity, any loss to these companies in jobs will be made up, likely with gains, in the new industry.

      The argument that other nations are advancing and will surpass our output is also pointless. As a market leader, the USA has the ability to establish products worldwide. The adoption of these products here will spur copycat import products, and likely will result in their use in these developing first-world nations. In addition, the USA can use it's trade imbalances and leverage with these countries to spur their adoption of these technologies- where they're not already leading us, that is, as in India with their 100% natural gas taxi and bus fleets.

      A few technological innovations which could help stem or prevent the devastating impacts of global warming are listed below; some are really basic concepts, too.

      -Zero-emissions gasoline engines via gas/emissions recovery and storage (exchanged for empty containers at gas stations)
      -Biodiesel-producing algae capable of processing the CO2, waste heat, and other emissions from coal-fired power plants and growing from it (already under testing in labs)
      -Battery-powered cars (big capacitors, big nanotech batteries, potentially fuel cells, no problems)
      -Zero-emissions factory environments (heat, water vapor, co2, etc recovered and reused/processed/stored)

      All of these technologies can bring American companies into the 21st century and revolutionize the entire world's concepts of how to deal with emissions- and potentially save a large percentage of the human race while doing it, and reaping enormous profits.

      I like to show people this chart: Wikipedia CO2/Temp Chart [wikipedia.org] because most people, when they see exactly how far off of the normal scale we are, understand that doing ANYTHING is better than saying 'we don't know enough to do anything about it yet!' We all bear a shared responsibility for this planet, and we should do what we can to attempt to preserve it for our descendants.

      love and peace.
    • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @03:54AM (#19591725) Journal
      Great post. If you want to hide your head in the sand, that is. Let me just shatter the myth that you're perpetuating in your first paragraph.

      1. The US is by far the biggest polluter per capita.

      Compare apples with apples, instead of of apples with oranges, by looking at per capita figures. The CIA World Factbook [cia.gov] lists the population of China as 1,321,851,888 (July 2007 est.) and the population of the US as 301,139,947 (July 2007 est.).

      You wouldn't compare the carbon dioxide emissions output of the US with that of a tiny nation like Bermuda, so play fair and use the most sensible measure to compare who's contributing how much.

      A quick mental calculation will show you that, in carbon dioxide terms alone, the US produces four times as much domestically as China does.

      2. China makes goods for the US, not the other way around.

      All those goods that China makes that the US consumes (clothing, electronics, etc) have an associated cost in terms of carbon dioxide and other pollution. But, of course, the figures that you've latched onto don't attribute those to the country of consumption, only to the country of origin.

      Put simply, when a Chinese factory makes something that an American will buy, it's at least partially (if not fully) pollution caused by the American consumer. So, a large chunk of the pollution caused by China, etc is due to the US (and other consumer nations) as well.

      The US has five percent of the world's population. The US consumes roughly 25-30 percent of the world's goods, and hence is responsible for 25-30 percent of the pollution. To sustain everybody on the planet at the current US level of consumption would take five to six Earth's worth of resources and create a similar amount of pollution.

      Now do you see why the US plays such a big part in this and should be taking positive, proactive steps to try to address the issues instead of trying to shift the blame to others?

      As for your closing complaint that "This is more government micromanagement that will do nothing but further bring us down", well, I could not disagree more. The free market alone will never make the necessary steps to do what's necessary by itself, no matter what you might think. Want an example? Then just look at how car manufacturers fought tooth and nail against mandatory installation of seatbelts in cars. Same shit, different decade, that's all.

      Please take your head out of the sand for a minute to think about it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Alioth (221270)
      Why are India and China expanding? Is it Chinese peasants buying all these products? No - it's still driven by Western demand. If we stop buying Chinese goods, China's emissions will drastically fall.

      We need to implement new emissions standards, and tell countries that want to sell us products that they must also meet our standards, or face tariffs that makes their products more expensive than the ones made in the countries that do meet the new standard.
  • It's actually really surprising how much airlines currently *don't* do to optimize fuel costs. Aircraft get vastly different fuel economies at different altitudes and speeds, and there is quite a lot of room for optimization of these in conjunction with winds aloft for long flights. There's not only a good environmental impact, but quite a bit of savings for the airline.

    Both my brothers are senior captains for well-known airlines, so this is a common talking point at the holiday dinner table. I got screw
    • Re:impact (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Spazntwich (208070) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @12:25AM (#19590777)
      It seems somewhat counterintuitive that airlines would ignore such an obvious way to save fuel if there weren't tradeoffs involved, considering its one of their single greatest expenditures.

      I've got family of my own in the industry, and I've never heard of any easy fixes for fuel consumption, but I do know airlines have implemented fuel-saving procedures such as taxiing with only one engine on. Given the meager fuel savings that provides but their strong advocacy of it, it just doesn't stand to reason that they would ignore other such easy ways to conserve.

      Do you have any data, studies, reports, anything to back up your claims besides some appeals to authority?
      • None that I can post here, but yes. I've seen fuel efficiency data for the aircraft we were discussing, and I've seen charts showing winds aloft through my own aviation training. I'm not saying there are no tradeoffs, or that it's necessarily an instant win, but it seems that there is (possibly significant) opportunity.

        Remember, just because a thought seems obvious doesn't mean that (a)it's been capitalized on, or (b) that it's easy.
        • by vought (160908)
          Remember, just because a thought seems obvious doesn't mean that (a)it's been capitalized on, or (b) that it's easy.


          I think it's more likely (B). With so many variables to juggle once a jet is off the ground, it's probably far easier for the airlines to tell their captains to fly at the airspeed appropriate to make the destination at the scheduled time.

          Per flight, the fuel savings won't be worth the cost and logistics hassle if even 5% of arrivals are forced early and/or late. Once a flight is a few minutes
      • by mcrbids (148650)

        It seems somewhat counterintuitive that airlines would ignore such an obvious way to save fuel if there weren't tradeoffs involved, considering its one of their single greatest expenditures.


        The aviation industry is simply counterintuitive.

        While most people think that the aerospace industry is high-tech, the truth is that it's rather backward. Airframe designs routinely remain in active use for 30+ years, sometimes 50 or more! An entire industry that's focused on reliability first and foremost beyond new inn
        • Interesting read, and as for

          I often feel as though the FAA is as much about suppressing the aviation industry as it is about promoting it.
          From what I've heard, I can't disagree.
        • by Biotech9 (704202)

          While most people think that the aerospace industry is high-tech, the truth is that it's rather backward.
          Strictly speaking, it's an industry that's been largely paralyzed by liability attorneys.
          Why would I have to adjust the fuel mixture MANUALLY on an airplane to get peak performance, when my cheap-o Saturn SL2 does the job nicely, even adapting itself to my specific driving habits?


          This is interesting. I work in the Pharma industry, and for years it's been very obvious to anyone working in Pharma that they
        • by Gordonjcp (186804)
          There is a new Diesel/Jet-A engine made by Thielert that eliminates the need to do either. I push the lever in and get more power. I pull it out to slow down.

          Diesel engines inherently need no mixture adjustment. They have no throttle. There's just a device to control the amount of fuel injected on each stroke. Nothing clever. This makes them incredibly suitable for turbocharging, because even at low power settings there's still a high airflow through the exhaust. Ever looked at the ground around an id
    • Re:impact (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DieByWire (744043) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @01:29AM (#19591079)

      It's actually really surprising how much airlines currently *don't* do to optimize fuel costs....

      Actually, they go to great lengths to minimize fuel burn. The reason they're often not at optimum altitude or speed is due to ATC constraints. At most (not all) airports, you'll have a much earlier than optimum descent from cruise altitude, followed by being high on the downwind leg (leaving enough space for departing aircraft to get out under the arrivals), followed by a tight, slam dunk, high drag approach or a loooong downwind while you do a low level fuel annihilation run due to the amount of traffic arriving.

      Oceanic routes have huge spacing requirements due to the lack of radar coverage. Because of that, it's often difficult to get a clearance to a new altititude while over the pond. It's not uncommon to cross the ocean at one altitude for the entire crossing, even though the optimum altitude will go up as the aircraft gets lighter.

      So, airlines do the best they can with the constraints they face. Improving the ATC system will be a big help.

    • by Alioth (221270)
      The airlines DO try and save fuel by optimizing their flight profiles. I was in the jumpseat of a British Airways B747-400. The crew know exactly the little optimization tricks (almost like coders used to hand-optimize assembler!) for getting fuel consumption down. For example, on approach to Houston Intercontinental, they got a speed restriction of 200 knots. You're expected to fly this speed +-10 knots by ATC. They flew it at 209 because it meant they needed one less stage of flaps - so less drag, and les
    • by sunking2 (521698)
      Classic! A couple of probably overpaid employees bitching about how their company doesn't know how to save money!
    • As a pilot, you should know that airplanes fly based on rules about 60 years old when mail planes flew by flaming torches lit on ground.
      Plane routes are NOT optimized for fuel savings. They are optimized for:

      1. Access to airports in an emergency (max fly time is 2 hours from any airport).

      2. Beacons on ground and sea which show the planes the "way" and which are not exactly short cuts.

      3. Altitude and Distance regulations which force how many planes you can pack into a silo of sky.
      Each silo is a straight box
      • by jsight (8987)
        Looks like you should have studied harder. Some of your facts are halftruths, especially this one:

        I studied all this 12 years ago when i wanted to be a pilot...Bugger my genetics, am color-blind and my doctor laughed me out of his door.

        Color-blindness is not a disqualifier. They'll make you do what's called a "SODA" test to determine that you are able to differntiate between the colors used by ATC in the event of comm failure.

        Most people pass w/ some practice.

  • Just wondering... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RuBLed (995686) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @12:17AM (#19590735)
    Come to think of it, what would happen to planes when our fossil fuels start to run out? I wonder what kind of altenative energy source could be used to run those "big" machines.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @12:31AM (#19590799) Homepage
    Federal Aviation Administration officials today launched what they hope will be pan U.S. and European Union joint action plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft. Specifically the group announced the Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions or AIRE

    Additionally, the FAA announced that their agency would be renamed the 'American Institute for Regulation of Pilot Licensing and Aeronautical Navigation and Engineering' (AIRPLANE) to satisfy new federal requirements for cutesy acronyms.
  • It's great that they're looking at ways to increase efficiency of current aircraft, but the question remains: how can we keep increasing our use of air travel without putting out more greenhouse gases. You hear people talking about restrictions on air travel in the future, and I can't understand why we can't find technological solutions.

    For example, is anybody doing research on biofuels for turbines? I've heard of the USAF looking into it for greater energy security, but is it a reasonable proposal?

    Coul

  • Nope (Score:2, Interesting)

    This still isn't the issue that should be discussed. Most greenhouse gas emissions (that can be prevented to continue our society running in a way similiar to how its running how) come from poor building design. Architecture, engineering and software design is what needs to be looked at, not car's which contribute only about 1/3rd the damage that building, living in and operating buildings add to the factor.

    We need to use smart and effective 'green' design. And no, I don't mean we should be living in squ
  • I recommend that no short or medium term plans to switch long-haul flights to battery-powered engines.

    Now, where do I send my consultancy bill?

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday June 21, 2007 @03:23AM (#19591605) Homepage Journal
    If they just improved their flight scheduling infosystems to eliminate wasteful delays and wasteful rushing to catch up, they'd burn a lot less fuel per mile traveled.

    How many times have we arrived above an airport, just to fly in circles until the terminal is ready to let us get to the gate? How long have we spent burning fuel on the runway, waiting for our turn to take off? All that extra fuel burned to go extra miles between our points.

    And then the pilot tells us they'll pour on the speed to catch up to schedule, or get us ahead of schedule - so we have to wait longer for a gate to open when we arrive. That extra airspeed might improve their ontime arrivals/departures stats, but once out of the maximum efficiency range, that 4th power of wind resistance per area drag really multiplies the inefficiency out of the engine's peak efficiency RPM.

    But if their logistics just mapped the arrivals/departures to the capacity of the airports, most of that waste would be unnecessary. I wouldn't be surprised to see >10% fuel efficiency gained right there, plus the extra efficiency from less refueling infrastructure.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LarsWestergren (9033)
      Even worse - some airlines keep running empty planes [bbc.co.uk] back and forth so they can keep their sought after "landing slots" at airports.
    • by Shotgun (30919)
      No amount of flight scheduling will fix this problem, because flight scheduling isn't the root cause. In fact, flight scheduling is a valiant attempt to fix the root cause.

      The root cause is that everyone wants to arrive at LAX at 8am and depart at 6pm. Just enough time to get from the airport to the client site, spend a day in meetings, and then get to the airport and back home. Try taking a trip occasionally to a smaller airport with an arrival time around 11am, 3pm or 10pm. I flew to GSO about a month

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