Monday, June 2, 2008
Embraer Launches ExecuCare Environmental Program
“In the EEC Embraer Carbon Offset (ECO) module, our customers will have the first Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) ‘tip-to-tail’ program to provide full carbon offset as simply and automatically as they have their airplane maintenance taken care of in the EEC program,” said Maurício Aveiro, Embraer vice president, customer support – Executive Jets.
Environmental Strategies and Technologies Director Graciliano Campos described it as a concept program as it searches for environmental projects. It will be auditable and could, if the customer desires, be linked to the Executive Care maintenance program which already collects aircraft usage data in order to produce custom maintenance programs for clients.
“The important thing is to release the bureaucratic burden from client,” said Campos. “We already have the structure and systems in place in order to record the operational parameters of the aircraft. It is just a matter of using those features in order to calculate emissions. We not only want to serve the client and meet the market expectations, but our goal is to establish an expertise on environmental issues. We want to be the international leader. We want to gain a lot of expertise in the market before the regulations come to pass.”
The cost of the program will be on a fixed per hour costs depending on all the enhancements chosen by the client. In addition, clients can only purchase the green module without also investing in the Executive Care package. The green module should not cost more than five percent of the EEC maintenance program and will start in 2009. Embraer will handle all the administrative takes and buying credits. At least for now it will not treat the program as a profit center and will only be charging for overhead costs.
Campos acknowledged the credibility of carbon offset programs. Such programs have been questioned, including at hearings before the Federal Trade Commission which raised a host of questions about what has become a $54 million industry but is regarded as so much window dressing rather than having an actual environmental benefit. Related Story However, he believes offsetting is naturally maturing to a level of greater credibility.
“We intend to create our program in such a way that we buy credits from accredited and certified organizations,” he said. “We have identified a number of forest conservation and recovery projects in Brazil that are credible that we can offer to clients. We won’t choose any project for the sake of choosing a project. They have to be certified and verifiable. There are two certification standards which are globally accepted – the so-called gold standard and the verified emissions reductions which is used on the Chicago Exchange. The gold standard, however, is reluctant to do reforestation projects. The one perspective we need to keep in mind is the fact this is not about carbon trading it is about reducing green house gases, regardless of how difficult or complex it may be to measure the gain from planting trees or preserving forests. These are things we can do today.”
The new environmental offering has yet to pinpoint the various carbon offset projects that will be part of the project. Even so, Campos provided a tantalizing glimpse during a recent visit to Sao Jose dos Campos when he discussed bio-fuel projects which has come under fire because crops for fuel is competing against crops for food, driving up prices and creating shortages that have forced some countries to ban exports of some food staples. Brazil already has 100 percent of its road vehicles on sugar-cane-produced bio fuels which can be produced more cheaply than the corn-based product used in the U.S.
Campos noted there were two Brazilian-grown bio fuels that have the potential to rid Brazil of problem plants and create economic potential for crops in areas that are ill suited for other agricultural products. Embraer is investing $250 million this year in research for bio fuel programs and other technology that are not immediately translated into products, he said.
Campos first pointed to the oil derived from Brazilian babassu nuts, which has already been tested by Boeing and Virgin Atlantic. Related Story Native to Brazil, the tree can be cultivated in semi-desert land and could be developed to build an economy for poor populations. He also cited the Jathropa plant which grows like a plague in Brazil, mainly in areas where the soil characteristics are poor for other agricultural products. It is, said Campos, more efficient than babassu since it grows in more regions throughout South America.
However, he said algae holds the most promise since it is 150 times more productive than any bio mass. He predicted it would kill all other bio fuels. Interest in algae is clearly growing, he said. In addition to the Air New Zealand/Boeing research initiatives, Dutch company AlgaeLink announced its partnership with KLM in developing the next generation aviation fuel. AlgaeLink, a global manufacturer of commercial scale algae cultivation equipment and algae-to-fuel-technology, signed an exclusive agreement at the recent Future Fuels Aviation Summit for a pilot project with KLM on developing alternative fuel for the aviation industry.
While most might think Embraer would concentrate on the deforestation of the Amazon, Campos indicated Embrear was more interested in re-creating the forests bordering the Atlantic which are 93 percent gone. As an example of what can be done, he pointed to the world’s longest runway that it built at its Gavião Peixoto site. It committed to replant the native forest – 600,000 trees in a 250 acre area – over 10 years, a feat completed in far less time.
“We’ve seen an interesting phenomenon,” he said. “The local population has reported seeing animals that have not been there for many years. What we did was create a wildlife corridor between two forest ecosystems allowing animals to migrate thanks to our naturalization project. We even have wolves in middle of the runway.” While it has not sought carbon credits for that project, it has raised awareness of what can be done locally around its facilities.
Biz Av’s Small Environmental Impact
The new program is being launched in spite of the infinitesimal contribution business aviation makes to aviation emissions, according to Campos. Worldwide, aviation contributes only two percent while energy production is four percent and residential is eight percent. One of the largest contributors, and thus the one with the greatest potential to immediately reduce CO2 emissions, is the public electricity/heat at 35 percent.
Campos parsed aviation’s contributions further, saying business aviation contributes less than 0.02 percent of total aviation CO2 emissions while commercial aviation flights with less than 100 seats -- its commercial aircraft marketplace -- are responsible for only nine percent. “The emissions contributions of the sectors in which we compete are very small,” said Campos, speaking of both the commercial and business sectors. “Today, in business aviation, Embraer has a 16 percent market share on super mid size and constitutes only 12 percent of the entire business aviation market meaning our business aircraft are tenths of millionths of the total aviation emissions footprint.”
Embraer also contends that aircraft replacement is a key to reducing emissions and makes strong arguments for both its commercial and business products. Using the Phenom 100, and comparing it to the older aircraft such as the Citation 1 and the previous generation CJ1+, Embrear’s very light jet produces 10 percent less CO2 than the former and 33 percent less than the latter, according to the company. The Phenom 300 – compared to the LearJet 25G and the previous generation Citation V, produces 12 percent and 25 percent less CO2, respectively.
With the Legacy 600, compared to the Gulfstream III and previous generation Gulfstream IV, there is a 26 and 28 percent margin, respectively. Finally, the Lineage 1000, it says, produces 50 percent less CO2 than older aircraft like the B737-200, MD87 and DC9, and 15 – 30 percent less than older generation aircraft such as the 737-300 and -500, the Fokker 100 and the RJ100.
Campos noted that 80 percent of aviation emissions come from aircraft flying over 1,000 kilometers for which there is no alternative much less a more fuel efficient alternative. Only five percent of emissions is from flights on routes less than 400 kilometers; the turboprop arena, and 12.5 percent comes from flights between 500 and 1,000 kilometers.
“If you add them up they constitute less than 20 percent of total aircraft emissions,” said Campos, who noted that inter-city rail service contributes only one percent of the CO2. The average commercial aircraft fuel burn is 4.28 liters per passenger, per 100 kilometers compared to 5.3 liters per passenger, per 100 kilometers.
“At 1,000 kilometers you fly about an hour versus nine to 15 hours in a car,” he continued. “In other parts of the world you can still take an overnight train in the 1,000 to 1,500-mile sector but beyond that there is no practical alternative to air transportation. The only practical alternative is if we change the paradigm. We can only give up flying if we change our way of life and it will be a different world than we have now. That is the dimension of the decision.” “Embraer is moving ahead in its efforts to develop sustainable industrial processes, as well as technologies that reduce the emissions of its jets,” said Campos. “The aviation industry accounts for eight percent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and, according to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), executive aviation is responsible for one percent of the total aviation emissions, or 0.02 percent of the total human-related carbon dioxide. Moreover, in 40 years, the aviation industry has reduced its emissions by 70 percent, by developing technologies and optimizing fuel consumption. We have to show that business aviation is not a luxury item but a strong part of the economy that is critical to economic growth. The economy would not grow as much without business aviation as a tool.”
Becoming a Carbon Neutral Machine
As for becoming a leading authority on environmental initiatives, Embraer has already achieved quite a lot on that score based on its work to reduce the environmental footprint of its production sites. Campos noted that Embrear is the first aircraft manufacturer to achieve ISO 14001 certification for its facilities and the first to certify an aircraft – its Ipanema crop duster – to be fully powered by bio fuel. That project was cited as one of the 50 most important inventions of 2005 by Scientific American magazine. Originally certified decades ago, the Ipanema encountered problems with ethanol since it shortened engine life. Embraer redesigned the aircraft and engines for ethanol to solve the problem. Campos indicated that, during development and certification tests, the internal parts wear was lower than with avgas engine.
Its boilers and heaters have been retrofitted to use natural gas, thereby reducing emissions by 20 percent despite an increase in power usage. It has also achieved an over 80 percent rate for the recycling of solid wastes – wood, plastic, styrofoam, paper, cardboard, cooking oil, chemical waste, used paints and cans, composite material, and oils – towards a goal of zero contributions to land fills and hazardous materials. The remaining 20.4 represents materials which, at this time, are considered non-recyclable. “It all goes somewhere to be processed,” said Campos, who indicated that Embrear has also forged partnerships for other companies to use its waste to the point that that program is now a profit center for the company totaling $6.6 million in 2006, up 57.1 percent over the $4.2 million made in 2005. Last year it generated $9.7 million in revenue.
Its energy conservation programs were recognized by the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (FIESP), which honored the company with two awards in 2006 including the Award for Conservation and Rational Use of Energy and first place (from among 125 participating companies) for the program “Maximizing the Efficiency of Embraer’s Compressed Air System”, at its main plant in São José dos Campos, reducing electrical energy consumption by 456 MWh, for an efficiency gain of 7.2 percent. Similar projects are underway at other company units. Embraer also took third place with the “Natural Gas Air Conditioning System, with Thermal By-Product - Cogeneration”, which substituted OC-4 fuel oil and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) with natural gas to heat the water for washing dishes and utensils in the restaurant.
Embraer also supports the social environmental projects of the Department of the Environment of the City of São José dos Campos, like covering the vegetation around the springs feeding into the Paraíba do Sul River, for the purpose of improving the city’s quality of life. The project is carried out by public school students, as well as those from Engineer Juarez Wanderley High School, founded in 2002 by the Embraer Education and Research Institute and includes planting trees along the banks of the rivers, participating in awareness-building activities, such as analyzing water samples, distributing educational materials developed by each participating region, building models illustrating how water is distributed and, presenting the reasons why it is important to conserve water. In all, over 14,000 trees have been planted around 17 public springs, mobilizing over 2,500 students from 18 public schools.