Alumni lecture 12 October 2021: Transforming aviation to serve a climate neutral society
As the latest IPCC report has reinforced, more and more urgent action is needed to limit global warming to the levels committed by the 194 states representing over 97% of global CO2 emissions that have ratified the Paris Agreement. The European Union’s Green Deal and EU Climate Law under political negotiation will aim to make Europe a ‘climate neutral continent’ by 2050. And to do this all sectors of economic activity will need to undergo a fundamental transformation. So is a ‘net zero’ or climate-neutral (European) aviation system by 2050 feasible, or a utopia? Or do we need to consider flying as an activity that will need to be strongly reduced to achieve our climate goals?
Ron van Manen, TU Delft Aerospace Engineering alumnus and head of Strategic Development at the Clean Sky Joint Undertaking shared his perspective on the progress made and future steps needed. He showed how far aviation has already come in terms of energy efficiency, and shared innovations developed and supported by the Clean Sky programme which shows the potential to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment by a further 30% compared to today’s aircraft.
Furthermore, he highlighted the scale of the challenge that lies ahead, and how the next research and innovation programmes under development in the EU’s Horizon Europe Framework Programme will need to support a systemic transformation, involving bolder and more disruptive steps in aircraft technology, coupled to a fundamental reconsideration of the ‘energy chain’ and onboard fuel/energy source, and reinventing air transport operations and networks. He argued that only by reinventing aviation in this manner can future generations continue to enjoy the huge benefits of air travel, and that through this reinvention the European aeronautics and aviation sectors can set the global standard for sustainability and drive a new revolution in flight.
About keynote speaker and alumnus Ron van Manen
Ron van Manen (Delft University of Technology Aerospace Engineering – 1987) started his career in the airline industry, fulfilling several management positions at British Airways and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. In 1998 he was appointed Vice President Business Development at KLM Engineering and Maintenance. Co-leading this €1bn+ per annum MRO division as a chief commercial officer, and leading a major program investigating a spin-off and joint-venture between the airline and a major OEM related to all MRO operations.
In 2003 he joined QinetiQ in the UK as VP Civil Aeronautics, directing its contract research and development projects with industry, UK Government and EU. In 2008 he was appointed Managing Director of the Aerospace Consulting business, directing all of QinetiQ contract research and engineering services for the UK Government and Aerospace clients such as Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Goodrich, Rolls-Royce as well as clients such as NATS, Eurocontrol, BAA, British Airways, Virgin Group, the CAA and the AAIB.
In 2011 he joined the Clean Sky Joint Undertaking. In 2014 he was appointed Programme Manager for the Clean Sky 2 Programme under Horizon 2020. From 1 September 2019, he has assumed the post of Head of Strategic Development in the JU, concentrating on the preparations of a continued partnership under Horizon Europe and the research linked to the European Green Deal and EU’s Climate Neutrality goals.
Watch the recording of this event
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