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  • Writer's pictureBriana Lynch

Business Aviation: On the Forefront of Sustainability and Innovation

Updated: Feb 20

What exactly is sustainability?

When you hear the word sustainability, do you immediately think of climate change, recycling, and a “greener” environment? The environment is an important piece, but is just one pillar in the sustainability objective. The idea of sustainability is built on three pillars that also refer to economic and social sustainability in addition to the environmental pillar.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word sustainable as:

1. Something capable of being sustained and relating to, or being a method of, harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged (e.g. sustainable techniques, sustainable agriculture)

2. Something relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods (e.g. sustainable society).

The image below represents the three pillars and the intersection where sustainability would ultimately be reached.

How does sustainability fit into business aviation?

The most common sustainability initiative in business aviation is alternative fuels with the goal to reduce CO2 emissions. While the availability of alternative fuel is limited, business aviation fleets have the opportunity to be at the forefront of this initiative. The first Business Aviation Sustainability Summit was held this month (Sept. 2020) and increased awareness and understanding of the sustainable aviation fuel initiative. NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said, “This summit is about more than fuels, it’s about the future, and the way we think of sustainability in the years to come. Our industry has always had innovation and a pioneering spirit as its cornerstones. We’ve reaffirmed that visionary outlook with this forward-looking set of objectives.”

There are many additional sustainability initiatives that have evolved that include, but are not limited to: focus areas in noise reduction and recycling/reusable products. If alternative fuel is not your interest, there are many other initiatives your organization may utilize to coincide better with your operations.

Is there sustainability guidance available?

In October 2018, a group of business aviation professionals, supported by the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) and the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), came together and designed a 3-tiered program which they named Standards and Training for Aviation Responsibility and Sustainability (S.T.A.R.S.). S.T.A.R.S. was constructed on the idea to increase awareness of social and environmental issues to drive innovation. The ultimate goal is to foster this innovation by creating partnerships, guidance, and industry best practices. The guidelines and standards are created with the understanding that sustainability is equally important for business aviation companies of all sizes.

Many business aviation organizations frequently utilize IS-BAO and IS-BAH guidance. Standards are continuously modified and enhanced to correspond with industry best practices. IBAC has recently accepted the S.T.A.R.S proposal to integrate sustainability standards and guidelines into existing standards. Not only will this aid business aviation companies, but there will also be a standalone set of standards for those who may not be part of an aviation related organization.

When can you expect to see sustainability guidelines?

Many organizations across the globe have begun to participate in discussions regarding sustainability. This is a long-term project and collaboration and innovation across many industries is vital to the future goal of sustainability. Tier 1 is planned to be launched by the end of this year (2020) in Europe with Tier 2 and 3 following shortly behind next year. First label accreditations are expected in 2022 with North America seeing the guidelines in 2023. The Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, Asia can expect to see them launched in their areas in 2024.

Many webinars and summits have commenced and more are planned in the near future. Be sure to attend if sustainability suits your company’s needs! With that being said, I will leave you with a few fun facts to keep in mind while sustainability initiatives unfold!

Did you know?

  • Switching from the font ‘Arial’ to ‘Century Gothic’ will save you 30% in ink while printing!

  • If every office worker in the UK used one less staple a day and instead used a reusable paper clip, approximately 100 tons of steel would be saved in one year!



Business Aviation's First Sustainability Summit Highlights Focus Areas for Sustainable-Fuels Growth: NBAA - National Business Aviation Association. (2020, September 16). Retrieved September 21, 2020, from

Inspirational environmental sustainability facts. (2020, April 30). Retrieved September 20, 2020, from

Sustainable. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2020, from

THE S.T.A.R.S. MISSION. (2020, July 29). Retrieved September 20, 2020, from



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