Group's goal is greener aviation

A new national alliance — spurred by Wichita planemakers — will bring manufacturers together to share information on helping address aviation's environmental challenges.

Board members of the Lindbergh Foundation unveiled the Aviation Green Alliance at Thursday's Wichita Aero Club luncheon at the Hilton Wichita Airport.

"Wichita was the catalyst," David Treinis, principal for Blacksheep Consultants and vice chairman of the Lindbergh Foundation, said after a panel discussion on aviation trends and the environment.

Treinis was joined in the panel discussion by John and Martha King of the King Schools; Larry Williams, CEO of Ballistic Recovery Systems; John Petersen, founder of the Arlington Institute; and Kermit Weeks, founder of the Fantasy of Flight Museum.

The Lindbergh Foundation, founded in 1977, advocates a balanced use of innovation and technology and being environmentally sensitive.

"It's up to us as stewards to take up the mantle of leadership when it's the right thing to do," Treinis said.

The flying community has become a target in the debate about noise, emissions and environmental concerns, he said. It takes a joint effort to reduce aviation's environmental footprint, he said.

The Aviation Green Alliance will provide a platform for companies to share findings, "so we're not having to solve all the problems from scratch," said Williams, who is also chairman, president and CEO of the Lindbergh Foundation.

The alliance also will recognize those who "got it right," and help with recommended practices, Williams said.

Cessna, Bombardier Learjet and Hawker Beechcraft have their individual environmental initiatives under way, he said.

Cessna spokesman Bob Stangarone said the alliance is "something that we don't have in aviation. It's shaping a rallying point for aviation matters as they relate to the foundation."

During the panel discussion, Arlington Institute founder and Lindbergh board officer Petersen noted that a key environmental issue facing the aviation industry is carbon dioxide emissions.

Aviation, however, makes up only 4 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. Forty percent comes from coal, he said.

General aviation in the next decade will be more advanced environmentally, he said.

Aircraft are being developed that run on electricity and solar energy. Batteries are increasing their capabilities dramatically.

"We're on our way to an all-electric world," he said.

The foundation recently gave a grant to fund research into saltwater algae for use in fossil fuel.

If trends continue, aviation will be "more intelligent if not brilliant," Petersen said. Aircraft will be easier to fly, cheaper to operate, use less fossil fuels and cost less to own, Petersen said.

"It's going to be a really different world, and it's going to be fun to get from here to there," he said.