MIT-Led Group Forms Zero Impact Aviation Alliance

Zero Impact Aviation Alliance

Photo (from left to right): Boeing Chief Sustainability Officer Chris Raymond; Delta Air Lines Chief Sustainability Officer Amelia DeLuca; Massport CEO Lisa Wieland; ZIAA Faculty Director Steven Barrett; Pratt & Whitney Chief Sustainability Officer Graham Webb; World Energy CEO Gene Gebolys

Credit: Christine Boynton

BOSTON—An interdisciplinary group of industry and academia have formed the Zero Impact Aviation Alliance (ZIAA) to move the needle on sustainable aviation goals.  

Convened by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the launch members comprise Boeing, Delta Air Lines, Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), Pratt & Whitney, and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) producer World Energy.

“We’re bringing various parts of the value chain together, and we’re all sitting around the same table,” Pratt & Whitney Chief Sustainability Officer Graham Webb said during the Sept. 25 launch event at Boston Logan Airport. “We have an integrated aviation value chain, with a fuel provider, propulsion system manufacturer, aircraft manufacturer, airline, and the actual airport itself. It brings those different perspectives together so that we can understand each other and then collectively find the most efficient paths with the greatest environmental impact.”

The alliance intends to regularly share progress on goals and metrics, once benchmarks are established. A wide-ranging discussion between launch members touched on challenges surrounding SAF, technology, incentives, and policy. Chief sustainability officers stressed a focus on action, as they work under MIT’s academic and scientific leadership to seek experiments and prototypes that could accelerate progress.  

“From the sustainable aviation fuel standpoint, where we expect this group to step in is to really unlock some of the technological breakthroughs when it comes to the synthetic fuels of the future,” Delta Chief Sustainability Officer Amelia DeLuca told Aviation Daily. “That’s really where we’re going to count on them to look at that whole value chain, which is very new—for synthetic fuel—and just say, where can we either accelerate technological development and/or bring the cost curves down as quickly as possible?” 
Describing ongoing efforts to evaluate what it will take to have a 100% SAF-compatible airplane, Boeing Chief Sustainability Officer Chris Raymond noted, “One of the great things about being in a partnership with somebody like Massport is, we also have to understand what does a 100% SAF compatible airport look like? That’s a hugely important piece of the equation.” 

The academia-led consortium will focus not only on convening, educating, and strategizing, but also on prototyping.

“We are here today because we truly believe that this is a different group,” DeLuca said. “This is going to be a group that is going to act and not talk. I think the whole point of the ZIAA group is to prioritize, and go.”

Christine Boynton

Christine Boynton covers air transport in the Americas for Aviation Week Network.