A new report by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) raises questions on the viability of supersonic aircraft for commercial airline service. While the prime objective of the report was to compare the environmental impact of supersonic flights compared to subsonic services, the findings also raise questions on whether supersonic flights would ever be profitable.
The five to seven times higher fuel burn of supersonic aircraft would exceed the CO2 emissions limits for airlines by 70%. Airlines are committed to reducing the environmental footprint of their operations. Key members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have committed ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).
Airlines are investing in more fuel-efficient planes and exploring alternative fuels—all in the interest of protecting the environment and their profit margins. The introduction of supersonic service would reverse these advances, the ICCT report finds.
“People are understandably excited about the prospect of boarding a supersonic jet in the near future. This analysis is a useful reminder that environmental standards will be needed to ensure that supersonics are reintroduced in a responsible way,” says Anastasia Kharina, study co-author and researcher at the ICCT.