EUROCONTROL Forecasts 16 Million Flights Per Year by 2050

LONDON – In the organization’s aviation outlook, EUROCONTROL predicts that around 16 million flights per year will be operated by 2050.

This, however, has not come without challenges in the future that the aviation industry has to deal with.

It is also why EUROCONTROL has instigated a range of 13.2-19.6 million flights per year by that period, but the damage caused by COVID-19 and the Ukraine Crisis will exacerbate things going forward.

With the Ukraine Crisis in mind, it is key to note that this report was prepared before the start of the invasion, which indicates that it isn’t as clear how this crisis will affect things going forward.

Brennan’s Words…

Eamon Brennan said the following on the report being released:

“Aviation has been hit hard by the COVID19 pandemic and, even after traffic has recovered to 2019 levels, we can expect slower growth than previously forecast”.

“However, growth will return and we need to prepare for significantly higher levels of traffic in the decades to come”.

“Long-term forecasts are never easy to produce but are vital for an industry such as aviation where long-term investment is required”.

The Numbers…

The 16 million flights per year by 2050 will represent a growth rate of 1.2% every year, which is 44% up on 2019 numbers, which is promising.

EUROCONTROL believes that the industry can be net-zero by 2050 by cutting 279 million tonnes worth of CO2 using the following methods:

  • 17% through more efficient than conventional aircraft.
  • 2% through electric & hydrogen-powered aircraft.
  • 8% through better ATM and airline operations.
  • 41% through the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.
  • 32% through other measures.

The 16 million-figure has been established through what EUROCONTROL deems as “the base scenario”, with 19.6 million being the high scenario and 13.2 million being the low scenario.

Six New Aircraft Will Enter Service Between 2025-2035…

EUROCONTROL believes that the first six types of revolutionary and evolutionary aircraft will enter service between 2025 and 2035.

With this in mind, this is a mix of hydrogen-powered aircraft, new iterations of existing aircraft, and others.

Such a figure of six aircraft will be the enhanced focus, even past 2035, but as far as the 2050 outlook goes, another six are expected in that period as well.

On the Sustainability front, EUROCONTROL said the following on this:

“More efficient conventional aircraft will be also rolled out such as two different turboprops with regional jet characteristics and capabilities, new wide-body aircraft potentially replacing A350 or B787, and new single-aisle aircraft”.

“We expect the last two aircraft to achieve around 15% fuel efficiency improvement compared to the previous generation of aircraft.

Continued Investment in the Sector Needed…

In the conclusion of the report, EUROCONTROL placed pressure on the industry to invest more going into the future if targets are to be met:

“The EUROCONTROL Aviation Outlook to 2050 scenarios reflect the fact that, if aviation is stronger, then it is better able to invest in more efficient technologies”.

“The most sustainable outcomes require the aviation industry to work with governments to ensure that the right investments and suitable regulations can be and are being made, within the aviation industry and beyond”.

It does remain clear that EUROCONTROL has thought this through.

However, it is now down to the rest of the sector to meet these demands in the outlook, and whether they do, we will have to wait as the years pass by.

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