June 1, 2013

D.O.M. Magazine

The aviation industry has done much over the past 35 years to improve efficiencies and lower emissions. But the general public and even the industry itself aren’t fully aware of all those efforts and the tremendous benefits they’ve garnered. The Lindbergh Foundation hopes to change that through its Aviation Green Alliance.

Aviation Green launched an ad campaign at last fall’s National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando, Fla. The “Conservation Through Aviation Innovation” series was developed with the support of Greteman Group, an aviation-specialty marketing agency based in Wichita, Kan., the Air Capital. The firm provided the concept, copywriting, design and project management. Its media buyers worked with almost a dozen leading aviation publications to run complimentary full-page ads. They include Aircraft Owner Online, AOPA Pilot, Aviation International News, Aviation Week & Space Technology, Business and Commercial Aviation, Business Jet Traveler, EAA Sport Aviation, Flight International, Flying, Professional Pilot and Trade-a-Plane.

“Technology combined with human ingenuity and a true commitment to environmental stewardship becomes a powerful, positive change agent,” says Sonia Greteman, agency president and creative director. “We’ve been humbled and encouraged by the brilliant, world-changing people and companies we’ve profiled.”

Lord of the Wings: Joe Clark

The first ad in the series featured Aviation Partners CEO Joe Clark and his drag-reducing, fuel-efficiency-improving Blended Winglet™ technology, credited with saving more than 3 billion gallons of jet fuel and reducing CO2 emissions by more than 32 million tons on 5,000-plus aircraft worldwide.

And Aviation Partners hasn’t stopped there. It’s forging ahead with tests on split and spiroid winglets and other refinements that could boost efficiencies above 10 percent.

“The relentless drive within aviation to reduce our environmental footprint benefits everyone on the planet,” Clark says.

Composites Virtuoso: Burt Rutan

Another aviation legend – Burt Rutan, founder and chairman emeritus of Scaled Composites – lent his considerable testimony to the campaign. Rutan’s creations – from the ahead-of-its-time Beechcraft Starship to the out-of-this-world SpaceShipOne – helped usher in the composites era in aircraft construction. His radical concepts pushed the conceptual envelope, freeing aviation from the straightjacket of derivative design. The cumulative environmental impact is incalculable, but the countless efficiencies he pioneered have undoubtedly helped the planet breathe easier.

“Simplicity and efficiency drive great aircraft design,” says Rutan. “It’s not an accident that the best designs also are the most environmentally friendly.”

Focused on Efficiency: FedEx

In addition to highlighting individual achievement, the campaign holds up innovative companies for acclaim – and emulation. They include FedEx and GE Aviation. The former directly links the health of the planet to the long-term health of its business. It set a goal to reduce its CO2 emissions by 20 percent by the year 2020, and after meeting that goal in less than five years, is now aiming for 30 percent. As one of the world’s largest airlines, it’s been aggressively replacing older aircraft with new, more efficient models. Moving from Boeing 727s to 757s, for instance, reduces fuel consumption by 47 percent. Its broad-based stewardship extends to the use of electric delivery vehicles, alternative fuels, recycling and more.

Breakthrough R&D: GE Aviation

The most recent ad in the campaign, celebrates GE Aviation. Its century-spanning innovation led to the nation’s first jet engine and the world’s most powerful jet engine. The latter, the legendary GE90, which powers the Boeing 777, racked up $2 billion in development costs. GE faced a chorus of naysayers saying, “It can’t be done. These new materials won’t work.” First it was carbon fiber. Then with the derivative GEnx that powers the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and 747-8, it was next-gen 3D aerodynamic design. GE pressed on. Seeking ways to push every part of the engine to its optimal balance, between performance and weight, durability and reliability. GE helps planes fly more efficiently. And does it beautifully. New York’s Museum of Modern Art displays the GE90-115B’s graceful blade, while the Guinness Book of World Records notes this engine generates 60% more thrust than the rocket that launched the first American into space.

Moving Forward

“The feedback this awareness campaign is generating reinforces our belief that many people were unaware of the tremendous scope of aviation innovations and their impact on the environment,” says Lindbergh Foundation chairman John Petersen. “The aviation industry can be one of the planet’s best environmental stewards – leveraging human ingenuity, harnessing technology and remaining steadfastly committed to finding ever-better solutions.”

*This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of D.O.M. Magazine.