Some will argue that the stigma surrounding private air travel is well justified, with the typical private jet emitting carbon at a rate of 4.9 kilograms per mile.
To provide some context, the average person emits around 0.6 metric tons of CO2 per year, while a commercial airline will emit approximately 85 grams per passenger per kilometre. Then there’s the perception of private jets as playthings of the rich and famous, and examples of frivolous and unnecessary excesses that should be done away with.
However, there are design and usage elements that can help to make private jets considerably more efficient in the modern age.
1. Alternative Fuels
Private jets can benefit from many of the design innovations that have impacted commercial planes, many of which are increasingly focused on minimising emissions.
Certainly, private jets are experimenting with alternative fuel sources such as biofuels, hydrogen and even electric power, although the latter remains very much in its infancy in terms of air travel.
However, each of these fuel sources is capable of reducing emissions and driving improved sustainability, as we’ve seen with the design of Vista Jet’s Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft.
This model has benefited from a number of design innovations that lend themselves to improved fuel efficiency, which also translates into lower usage and commercial costs over time.
2. Improved Aerodynamics and the Use of Lightweight Materials
Other overt design innovations include an increased focus on improved aerodynamics, which also impacts positively on fuel consumption and emissions.
There are several reasons for this, not least the fact that this reduces the lift-to-drag of a private aircraft, improving efficiency by reducing the vessel’s weight and fuel consumption levels.
They also tend to have more efficient engines, which is another key advantage that translates into reduced fuel consumption.
Similarly, contemporary private jet design is increasingly likely to feature lightweight and sustainable materials. These include composite materials such as carbon fibre, glass and aramid-reinforced epoxy, which also help to directly reduce weight and minimise fuel usage as a result.
3. Energy Efficient Systems and Interior Innovations
We’re also seeing modern-day private jets evolve to incorporate energy-efficient systems, like LED lighting. This incrementally reduces an aircraft’s operational costs, with savings becoming increasingly pronounced over an extended period of usage.
The same can be said for improved insulation in the plush interior of private jets, which definitely reduces energy consumption overall and helps with the process of capping total emissions.
These systems are clear examples of interior innovation and digitisation, while this trend is also evident in other aspects of contemporary aircraft design. For example, electronic flight bags are now widely used on private and commercial jets, with this relatively small measure having a significant impact across a large number of flights.
Modern jets also make use of real-time data collation and analysis, in a bid to optimise flight routes and reduce fuel consumption during live flights.
Conclusively private jet operators are increasingly aware of the need to reduce their environmental impact and are taking steps to operate more sustainably. While there is still a long way to go, these efforts are a step in the right direction towards a more sustainable aviation industry.