Monday, December 4, 2023

Boeing’s ‘Cascade’ Climate Impact Model Goes Public


In an effort to support commercial aviation’s path toward net zero carbon emissions, Boeing has made its Boeing Cascade Climate Impact Model available for public use.

Leading aircraft producer Boeing says Cascade is a revolutionary tool that can examine the full lifespan of alternate energy options for aviation — from generation to distribution and utilization. It evaluates the capacity of these energy sources as a means to reduce aviation’s carbon footprint. It utilizes data modeling to assess airplane fleet renewal, operational efficiency, renewable energy resources, future aircraft, and market-based measures as avenues to achieving decarbonization.

“We created Cascade to serve as an industry tool that creates a common framework among aviation, energy, finance, and policy,” Boeing Chief Sustainability Officer, Chris Raymond, said in a statement. “By putting data first and sharing this model with the public, we are enabling collaboration, feedback, and alignment across industry, government, and others who work together to achieve a more sustainable aerospace future.”

net-zero air travel
Courtesy George Khelashvili | Motion Array

Cascade’s analysis highlighted several key insights. Chiefly, the path to carbon neutrality is inextricably tied to the broader energy transition and according to Boeing,. irrespective of the source of energy — be it sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), hydrogen, or electricity — energy and emissions related to the manufacture, distribution, and storage of fuels must be minimized to attain the highest sustainability.

SAF emerges as the primary means to curtail carbon emissions since it can be utilized in both current and older commercial aircraft. As numerous planes in use today will continue to operate until the 2040s and possibly beyond, reducing their emissions through SAF is critical.

Though electric- and possibly hydrogen-powered aircraft may appear in the coming decades, their impact on emissions reduction will likely be restricted through 2050 due to the lengthy development and deployment processes and the extensive infrastructure modifications needed at airports and pipelines.

Substituting fleets with state-of-the-art, fuel-efficient airplanes will bring about considerable emissions reduction in the near future.

Neil Titchener, Cascade Program Leader, said Cascade helps airline operators, industry partners, and policymakers to see “when, where, and how different fuel sources affect their sustainability goals.” Titchener says the industry has really hard questions ahead, “we’re going to have to make difficult choices. Cascade can be the conversation starter for how each decarbonization pathway can help us reach a more sustainable future.”

airplane in the clouds
Courtesy Colin Lloyd | Unsplash

The public introduction of Cascade took place during Boeing’s inaugural Sustainable Aerospace Together Forum, an event that brought together prominent figures from commercial aviation, government, and the energy and finance sectors.

Boeing also unveiled the Cascade User Community, a working group designed to provide feedback on new features, functionalities, and application programming interfaces. The founding members include IATA, NASA, the University of Cambridge’s Aviation Impact Accelerator, and the MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment.

“Cascade User Community will ensure the tool and data sources continue to get feedback and evolve for informed and effective discussions towards achieving net zero emissions by 2050,” Raymond said.

In addition to housing Cascade, the Sustainable Aerospace Together website offers resources and industry perspectives on aviation routes to decarbonization.

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