A post-carbon aviation future: airports and the transition to a cleaner aviation sector

Document Type


Publication details

Kivits, R, Charles, MB & Ryan N 2010, 'A post-carbon aviation future: airports and the transition to a cleaner aviation sector', Futures, vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 199-211.

Published version available from:


Peer Reviewed



There is an increasing global interest in sustainable aviation technologies as a result of concerns associated with the carbon-intensive nature of the industry and the imminence of reaching peak oil. Available options such as biofuels, liquid hydrogen and electric propulsion will not only impact on the design and functionality of commercial airplanes, but also will affect the entire industry from supply through to operation and maintenance. However, on account of the global spread and international nature of aviation, in addition to the lock-in effect associated with existing fossil-fuel driven technology, the present aviation paradigm is not well equipped for a massive or rapid technological transition. This paper first provides an overview of selected available propulsion options, as well as their possible impact on the aviation infrastructure. It then sets out to identify the existing regime players in the aviation transition arena as a means to provide an overview of potential path trajectories, with a view to assessing how airport owners and other salient regime players can either facilitate or hinder the transition to alternative and less carbon intensive technologies.

Find in your library