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The Environmental Impact of Air Travel

Proposal Summary

The modern aviation can be considered one of the most fast-growing industries as its strategic significance and importance for economies serve as the potent stimuli for further development. Imports, exports, shipments, tourism, and business also depend on the ability of airlines to function appropriately and meet diverse demands that emerge every day (Abeyratne 2014). However, this technologic advance and the increasing dominance of aviation are associated with the growing number of adverse effects on the environment.

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Considering the existing tendencies, the problems will become even more complex because of the absence of alternatives to aviation and peculiarities of aircraft’s work. In this regard, it becomes critical to investigate the environmental impact of air travel and assess possible solutions to reduce it.

The issue mentioned above is today associated with the work of aircraft engines, that produce heat, pollutants, emissions, and gases that affect the atmosphere and contribute to the emergence of negative changes in the climate. For instance, carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the elements traditionally considered dangerous as it interacts with other gases such as black carbon, carbon monoxide, nitrogen, and sulphur oxides resulting in the gradual deterioration of the quality of air (IATA n.d.).

The hazardous character of these pollutants has already preconditioned the introduction of limits and regulations to reduce emission from automobile engines (Bridger 2013). Moreover, alternative fuels and more effective engineering solutions are introduced to minimise the negative impact of cars and other industries on the atmosphere (Abeyratne 2014). However, in the sphere of aviation, the situation remains complex.

The rapid development of air travel and the emergence of new airline companies stipulate the increase in the number of harmful substances and negative impact on the environment. The relevant statistics show that from 1990 to 2006 there was an 87% increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the industry (Suder & Heidmann 2017). From 2006, the speed of aviation’s development doubled, and there is a constant increase in passenger kilometres every year (Abeyratne 2014). For this reason, the situation becomes more difficult because of the growing need for services suggested by the industry. In accordance with the research, CO2 emissions will grow because of the corresponding rise of airline companies. In such a way, agencies such as ICAO and IATA also show their concerns about the issue (IATA n.d.).

Regarding the relevance of the topic, the project delves into the main factors that have a negative impact on the environment and ways to solve the most topical problems. The major concerns that should be touched upon are water and air pollution, and noise which might include other issues that should be considered. The possible ways to achieve success are an improvement of aircraft and operations’ effectiveness, use of alternative fuels and reduction of air travel via the use of direct flights. Implementation of these measures can help to significantly reduce emissions and the number of problems associated with the further growth of the aviation sphere. That is why the project analyses the suggested solutions and how they can beneficially impact the industry and the environment.

Topic Literature Review

The current literature devoted to the issue acknowledges the fact that aviation is one of the most rapid-growing industries in the modern world. This fact is preconditioned by the unique strategic importance of the sphere and opportunities it provides to companies, organisations, and individuals (Bridger 2013). However, along with multiple advantages associated with this trend, there is also a negative aspect of this fast evolution.

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Abeyratne (2014) states that aviation becomes one of the main threats to the environment as the speed of its rise means that new aircraft will emerge and a number of emissions increase. For this reason, there is a critical need for the creation of effective solutions which might include more effective aircraft, operations, and innovative fuels (Bows-Larkin et al. 2016).

They might help to achieve significant progress in eliminating the major fears associated with the further development of the aviation industry and minimise the harm done to the environment. Suder and Heidmann (2017) assume that one of the prior tasks of airlines and regulatory agencies is to find the balance between the effectiveness of air travels, their ability to meet growing demands, and the environment which suffers from the high speed of the industry’s development.


The nature of the discussed topic preconditions formulation of the following objectives:

  • to analyse existing environmental threats associated with the functioning of the aviation industry
  • to study credible research literature to create the theoretical framework for the discussion
  • to explore measures that can help to minimise emissions and reduce the harm done to the environment
  • to evaluate such solutions as improvement of aircraft and operations’ effectiveness, use of alternative fuels and reduction of air travel via the use of direct flights
  • to discuss possibilities for these measures implementation
  • create the ground for new projects devoted to the investigated issue

Project Outcomes

The expected project outcomes come from the formulated objectives and help to fill the gaps in knowledge about the harm done to the environment by the aviation industry. Results of the investigation will include an improved understanding of the ways how to solve the existing problems and achieve appropriate results associated with the further rise and development of the aviation sphere. As far as the objectives demand the discussion of the main features of proposed solutions, the outcomes will also outline the most effective ways to reduce CO2 emissions, noise levels, and overall pollution presented in the atmosphere.

Finally, the list of recommendations associated with the further development of airline companies and a need for additional actions to mitigate their negative impact will be suggested. The achieved outcomes will also help to set the background for new investigations of the topic and its in-depth understanding.

Why are you interested in the project?

The importance of aviation and its critical role in the development of the modern world are undoubted. However, the emergence of multiple environmental concerns can create barriers for the further development of the sphere. For this reason, it is fundamental to evaluate the problem and possible solutions to guarantee aviation’s further evolvement.

What are the key questions the project attempts to answer?

The project aims at the in-depth investigation of the aviation sphere and its negative impact on the environment. For this reason, the paper attempts to answer what are the main problems associated with the issue and what effective measures can be applied to improve the situation.

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What Research Methods do you intend to use?

The outlined problem, its scale and topicality, precondition the choice of certain research methods and approaches to guarantee the effective data collection, its analysis, and discussion. The significance of the research paradigm is evidenced by the fact that it stipulates the results of the investigation and helps to achieve the outlined goals. For this reason, this part is essential for any project that aims at the detailed overview of a certain problem. In the paper, we utilise the inductive approach supported by the qualitative paradigm that is used to collect data.

First of all, the choice of the inductive paradigm is justified by the fact that it helps to generate a certain theory that comes from data collected in the course of the investigation. Adhering to this very model, we will be able to formulate a hypothesis and support it with facts acquired during observation. In general, it is one of the main tools of the selected methodology that helps to collect needed information and make premises on its basis. Moreover, the inductive approach helps to conduct the in-depth investigation of the chosen issue via the collection of data from various sources and their analysis.

The project also adheres the qualitative research methodology as an appropriate paradigm to evaluate the impact of the aviation sphere on the environment and conclude about the effectiveness of offered approaches regarding the reduction of emissions and other problems. The given approach helps to improve understanding of particular issues via the collection of information related to them and the exploration of multiple research paradigms.

A literature review is selected as a potent tool to gather information from various sources related to the issue and create the theoretical framework needed for the discussion. Only relevant and credible works should be included in the investigation to achieve higher reliability and feasibility levels. At the same time, secondary data collection techniques presuppose analysis of such sources as Internet databases, libraries, and other sites that can offer information essential for the research. One of the main advantages of this approach is the availability and accessibility of that data were also used for previous research projects to study particular issues.

Finally, the phenomenological research as one of the qualitative methods is applied to the selected issue to conduct an in-depth analysis of the way the aviation and increased number of flights impact the environment. The research of reports, case studies, and other credible sources of information helps to describe a selected phenomenon and outline the approaches that can be utilised to work with it and attain improved outcomes. In such a way, the project will benefit from the utilisation of the outlined paradigm as it will contribute to the collection of relevant data related to the issue and its successful analysis. It also guarantees that all available pieces of evidence needed to prove the negative impact of the aviation sphere on the environment and outline the most potent solutions will be collected and integrated into the report.

What primary and/or secondary data sources do you intend to use?

The project will use environmental and aviation agencies’ reports as primary and secondary sources. ICAO and IATA’s regulations will also be evaluated. Second, peer-reviewed articles will be analysed to gather information. Finally, books devoted to the problem will also be utilised.

Please provide draft chapter heading for your report

The rapid growth of the aviation industry can be considered one of the main features of the modern world. Its outstanding strategic importance and a significant role air travels play today facilitate the further evolution of the sphere. However, there are also some environmental concerns emerging because of the dangerous situation related to the increased emissions and harm done to the environment by the aircraft. The preservation of the current speed of growth will mean that new problems will emerge in the future. That is why there is the critical need for the in-depth investigation of the issue with the primary aim to find effective solutions on how to avoid damage to the environment.


  1. Thesis proposal.
  2. Analysis of sources.
  3. Data collection.
  4. Creation of the outline.
  5. Completion of the draft.
  6. Proofreading and introduction of amendments.
  7. Final version.

List of References

Abeyratne, R 2014, Aviation and climate change: in search of a global market based measure, Springer, New York, NY.

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Bows-Larkin, A, Mander, S, Traut, M, Anderson, K & Wood, 2016, ‘Aviation and climate change – the continuing challenge’, in R Agarwal, F Collier, A Schaefer, A Seabridge & R Blockley (eds), Green aviation, Wiley, New York, NY, pp. 4-39.

Bridger, R 2013, Plane truth: aviation’s real impact on people and the environment, Pluto Press, New York, NY.

Eurocontrol n.d., Environmental issues for aviation. Web.

IATA n.d., Improving environmental performance. Web.

Suder, K, & Heidmann, J 2017. ‘Improvement of aeropropulsion fuel efficiency through engine design’, in E Nelson & D Reddy (eds), Green aviation: reduction of environmental impact through aircraft technology and alternative fuels, CRC Press. Boca Raton, FL, pp. 49-81.

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