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Building a more sustainable world – from the sky

July 5, 2016

The commercial aviation industry is experiencing a period of extraordinary growth as it ushers in a wave of next-generation aircraft. The Mitsubishi Regional Jet took its first flight in late 2015 powered by Pratt & Whitney’s revolutionary PurePower Geared Turbofan engine and outfitted with advanced technologies from UTC Aerospace Systems.
The commercial aviation industry is experiencing a period of extraordinary growth as it ushers in a wave of next-generation aircraft. The Mitsubishi Regional Jet took its first flight in late 2015 powered by Pratt & Whitney’s revolutionary PurePower Geared Turbofan engine and outfitted with advanced technologies from UTC Aerospace Systems.

As our world continues to urbanize, commercial aviation will play a pivotal role in supporting the development of sustainable cities. 

Throughout history people around the world have found ways to connect with one another, exchange ideas and build a marketplace for their goods. Nearly 2,000 years ago the Silk Road connected Asia and strengthened communities from China to the Mediterranean. Today a modern Silk Road – green aviation – has emerged, connecting greater numbers of people and cultures in a more sustainable way. 

At United Technologies, we’re defining what this green aviation means. 

The Modern Silk Road: Aviation in the Age of Sustainable Urbanization, a new research paper written by Greg Gernhardt, President, Pratt & Whitney Commercial Engine Programs, and John Mandyck, Chief Sustainability Officer, United Technologies Corp., explores the impacts of urbanization and how ongoing migration to cities will affect the future of the aviation industry. The paper is the most recent example of UTC’s commitment to promoting global dialogue on important sustainability issues. 

Research tells us that urbanization will continue to be a major trend throughout the 21st century, leading to further expansion of the global middle class. This expanding segment of the population is likely to experience longer life expectancies, higher levels of innovation and economic activity, and improvements in literacy and education, among other advantages. This group will also be far more mobile, leading to continued growth in commercial aviation and a need for more sustainable products and behaviors. 

"At UTC we've proven that sustainability works. We're convinced that green aviation technologies will help the world urbanize in a more sustainable manner," said Mandyck.

Trends in urbanization and population growth will lead to significant challenges, driving the need for more sustainable solutions. Products like Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower® engine with Geared Turbofan™ (GTF) technology – which the company spent $11 billion and more than 20 years developing – is a prime example of how United Technologies and its businesses play an important role in moving the world forward. 

“In comparison to traditional jet engines in its class, the GTF engine provides customers with 16 percent lower fuel use, a 50 percent overall reduction in regulated emissions, and a 75 percent reduction in overall noise footprint – a step change in the ‘greening of aviation’,” explained Gernhardt. 

By expanding today’s Silk Road, green aviation has the potential to promote economic opportunity, provide attractive jobs, and enhance the health and well-being of the cities and regions it serves.