Turning anticipation into action—at speed—will require adopting fundamentally different strategies:
1. Sustainability, by design
There is vast potential for innovation in design and engineering. Gains can be achieved at this stage by pursuing a more sustainable product and by making the design process itself more resource and energy efficient.
Airbus created a lighter, stronger "bionic" partition to separate the passenger compartment from the galley in the A320 aircraft. Installing these bionic partitions across the entire cabins of A320s could reduce up to 500 kg of weight, resulting in CO2 emissions reductions of up to 166 metric tons per aircraft per year.
2. Sustainability, made to order
Adopting a connected factory model can significantly improve resource and energy management at the manufacturing stage. For example, IoT-enabled smart meters have the potential to reduce energy consumption in aircraft production by 20%. In addition, utilizing renewable energy at manufacturing facilities helps in lowering the environmental impact of production operations.
Boeing runs its factories in Renton, Washington and Charleston, South Carolina through solar, wind and hydropower, and its renewable energy procurements reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 10% in 2020.
3. Sustainability, every step of the way
Technologies such as digital twins—virtual representations of objects or systems—allow for preventative maintenance, minimizing aircraft downtime and substantially increasing environmental performance. Reducing “reactive maintenance” in this way also lowers costs and reduces the energy and materials required for repairs.
Rolls Royce has created digital twins of their engines, where the company collects real-time data to assess engine performance, ultimately saving 22 million tons of carbon.
All together now: Harness the ecosystem
Ecosystem plays offer the opportunity for faster and further scaling of sustainability-based business models, as well as deeper impact. For example, 98% of aerospace and defense executives agree that it will be essential to engage with and scale sustainability ecosystem partnerships over the next two years.
The following strategies can help companies harness the ecosystem to unlock value:
1. Sustainability, from the source
Aerospace and defense companies must evaluate sourcing and procurement to ensure that sustainable methods and processes are employed to extract and transport materials.