Environmental concerns have risen in line with the growth of aviation. Here are four steps being taken around the world to combat pollution and to reduce the carbon footprint of both aircraft and airports.
1. Airports are embracing renewable energy
An increasing number of airports have been switching at least partially to renewable energy.
– Solar energy is becoming an attractive option for powering airports and solar farms have been built on unused land near several aerodromes. IEC Technical Committee (TC) 82 prepares Standards pertaining to the conversion of solar photovoltaic energy into electrical energy.
– Wind farms are used to power airports, for example in the Netherlands. IEC TC 88 oversees the standardization for wind turbines and the interaction of these with the electric system.
– Hydropower is another option. IEC TC 4 helps to develop Standards for hydraulic rotating machinery and other equipment associated with hydropower development.
– In countries surrounded by sea, in the UK for instance, some airport projects have involved the use of marine energy-powered systems. IEC TC 114 prepares International Standards for marine energy conversion systems.
The IEC has also established the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Renewable Energy Application (IECRE).
2. Airports are preferring energy efficient LED lights
LED lights consume less electricity and stay much cooler than incandescent lights, reducing also the risk of combustion.
LED lights are being used in multiple areas in and around airports to lower the costs of their energy-hungry operations. In addition to multi-storage car parks open 24/7, they are also starting to be used for aeronautical ground lighting (AGL) and to light airports’ indoor facilities.
Lighting can be controlled and adapted to various requirements and if equipped with sensors can automatically switch on and off when required. In addition to the Standards published by IEC TC 34, the IEC’s quality assessment system for electronic components, IECQ, has developed the IECQ scheme for LED lighting.
It aims to test and assess the quality of electronic components and assemblies used in the production of LED lamps against IEC Standards.
3. The airline industry is combatting noise pollution
Noise pollution is an area of concern for the airline industry.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), environmental noise exposure is responsible for a range of health effects, including increased risk of heart disease, sleep disturbance, cognitive impairment among children, stress-related mental health risks and tinnitus.
IEC TC 29 publishes Standards which measure noise levels. It issues IEC 61265, which specifies requirements for devices used to measure sound for the purpose of aeroplane noise certification.
The Standard was prepared in liaison with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN Specialized Agency, and is referenced in ICAO’s Doc 9501, which defines the procedures for the noise certification of aircraft. The ICAO also refers to other Standards developed by IEC TC 29, such as IEC 61672 on sound level meters.
4. Electric aircraft are being developed
Airlines, aircraft makers and university engineers are working on electric aircraft prototypes and have already pioneered the take-off of a hydrogen fuel cell four-seater electric aircraft. The IEC has been paving the way for electric fuel cell applications through the work of IEC TC 105 on fuel cell technologies.
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