Kyle Patel, Executive Director of global private jet provider BitLux, discusses what the private aviation industry can do to control its sustainability narrative while countering misinformation and an overall negative perception around the sector’s green efforts.
There are two ways you can tackle the sustainability discussion in any industry. To keep discussing it or acting. At BitLux we have decided to do both. Fruitful discussions with diverse stakeholders are important for alignment and educational purposes, yet it is only one small piece of the puzzle. Today, the public is expecting companies to walk the talk and their consumer behavior is geared toward that reality.
Aviation is at a key stage around sustainability. Targeted activism toward the industry’s carbon footprint is elevating, generating media attention, and misinformation campaigns, in contrast with what manufacturers are doing to go above and beyond to create more efficient aircraft and how the urban air mobility revolution is gaining ground with almost ready-to-market electric aircraft. This has been happening for years now but for some reason, it lacks the substance to countermeasure the negative noise.
What about private aviation? Well, the industry is an easy target when celebrities take a 10-minute flight to their destination. While I believe it’s hard to justify those operations, we are failing to control the narrative while educating end users about what propelled the industry to unparalleled success: flexibility to perform various missions and to allow passengers to control how they want to fly.
Did you know that aviation accounts only for 2.4% of global total carbon emissions (Business aviation only 0.04 % of that)? Hard facts yet using them as a tool to buy time in the discussion will get us nowhere and, most importantly, will not improve the public’s perception. And I believe the latter is key because once the industry’s image is improved, the end user will understand how they can be part of the solution.
In a nutshell, private aviation can change the public perception regarding its role in the sustainability debate by leading three important topics:
Communication: being more open about why clients are flying while controlling the narrative with hard facts about the industry and its technological advancements.
Education: countering misinformation in the media and the public eye about private jet types, emission numbers, operation definitions, fuel taxes, and overall purpose.
Innovation: the private aviation ecosystem can be a phenomenal tool for emission management research, and ultimately a force for good within aviation.
How can end users support sustainable flying?
At BitLux, we act by empowering the end user to assess which operators are aligned with their own environmental goals. We have a thorough understanding of those operators that are doing their due diligence regarding data collection and reporting while also investing in the latest
technology for more fuel-efficient flights.
While we truly believe that empowering client choice is paramount, creating and constantly updating the information to support customer choice, puts reasonable pressure on operators to start addressing a bigger picture of emission management and to innovate, communicate and collaborate.
Most feasible solutions in aviation
There are competing efforts in the sustainability ecosystem to provide real solutions. That is exactly the best-case scenario for advancement in an industry, to have multiple actors searching for solutions with a collaborative approach. The most immediate solutions are separated into net reductions such as the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and offsetting, and real-time efforts such as empowering operator choice based on a combination of those two efforts. Electrification and the use of completely new fuels and propulsion, and the required aircraft simply can’t be seen
as a short-term widespread solution.
Private aviation collaboration needs to be industry-wide, with agreements, initiatives with deadlines, among others, but also with face-to-face commitments between providers and their customers, and operators. So again, a combination of discussion and action. Obviously, public pressure will drive such requirements, but the collaboration should always be intra-industry-led and executed.
In conclusion, the sustainability discussions need to turn into action while involving most actors in the industry – from authorities to manufacturers and private jet providers. To achieve improved efficiency and extensive buy-in, frequent and open information and education must be shared with end users to manage the narrative amongst the media and public eye levels.
Advancements will be made in technology nonetheless of the previous, although this process cannot be separated from the end user’s realm. At BitLux we are eager to transform into a consistent facilitator between those two realities – aviation’s advancements in the field and the end user’s role in deciding how it can immediately make an impact on greener travel. It will take education, frequent communication, and industry-wide collaboration.