More than 300 aviation leaders from 40 countries met in Geneva, Switzerland to renew the environmental strategy they had adopted at the First Summit one year ago and to strengthen their collective action to reduce noise and emissions from air transport.

Opening the Second Summit on April 25, Dr. Assad Kotaite, President of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) urged the aviation community to be proactive and to better communicate on its achievements and commitments. He underlined that environment is one of aviation’s top challenges together with safety and security.

The Summit, which is co-organized under ATAG’s umbrella, with ACI for the airports, IATA on behalf of the airlines, CANSO as the air navigation service provider organization and ICCAIA representing the airframe and engine manufacturers, agreed that technology is key to any further progress. More efficient engines and lighter materials are emerging, together with environmentally friendly biofuels that could also be part of the solution.

Infrastructure improvements, such as shorter routes over polar regions, are a very important component of the air transport strategy in combination with the numerous operational good practices that the Summit has urged all concerned to implement as soon as possible.

Regarding climate change, the Summit participants called for accelerated action, noting that although aviation is only responsible for 2% of global CO2 emissions, its contribution is growing in absolute terms. This action must be coordinated through ICAO, as stated in the Kyoto Protocol, and should include voluntary agreements between industry and governments, like in Japan and Canada.

In the context of noise, the Summit urged local authorities to resist real estate pressure and thus prevent residential encroachment in the immediate vicinity of airports. It also urged airport operators to establish and maintain a transparent dialogue with their neighbors.

The question of local air quality was also addressed as a growing concern. It will be necessary to tackle not only emissions from aircraft, but also from ground airport services and road traffic. The Summit noted the importance of defining acceptable trade-offs, since some technological advances to reduce emissions may have a negative impact on noise and vice-versa.

In closing the Summit, Philippe Rochat, Executive Director of ATAG mentioned ATAG’s plan to develop communications tools to improve the perception of aviation’s environmental achievements and commitments. After having emphasized the importance of a true partnership approach not only within the industry but also with governments and civil society representatives, he invited all those present to attend the Third Aviation & Environment Summit, which is planned to take place next year at ICAO’s Headquarters in Montreal, Canada.