Boeing's Cascade Climate Impact Model Drives Aviation's Net Zero Emissions
Members of the new Cascade User Community attend a demo of the data modeling tool. Boeing publicly launched Cascade today in support of aviation’s net zero goal. Photo credit: Boeing

In a significant move towards achieving net zero carbon emissions in the commercial aviation industry, Boeing has unveiled the Boeing Cascade Climate Impact Model. This data modeling tool is designed to analyze and quantify the effects of various sustainability solutions aimed at reducing carbon emissions in aviation. The tool’s release is part of Boeing’s commitment to a sustainable aerospace future and is accessible to the public through their new Sustainable Aerospace Together hub.

Cascade takes into account the complete life cycle of alternative energy sources for aviation, including their production, distribution, and usage. By doing so, it provides insights into the potential of different solutions to cut carbon emissions in aviation. The model also evaluates the impact of airplane fleet renewal, operational efficiency improvements, the use of renewable energy sources, and market-based measures as pathways towards decarbonization.

Boeing’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Chris Raymond, emphasized that Cascade was developed to serve as an industry tool that fosters collaboration among aviation, energy, finance, and policy sectors. By prioritizing data and sharing the model with the public, Boeing aims to enable cooperation, feedback, and alignment among all stakeholders involved in achieving a more sustainable future for aerospace.

Some of the key findings from the Cascade assessments include:

  1. The journey towards net zero carbon emissions heavily depends on the overall energy transition. Regardless of whether sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), hydrogen, or electricity is used, it is essential to minimize the energy and emissions associated with the production, distribution, and storage of fuels in order to achieve the most sustainable outcome.
  2. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is expected to play a crucial role in reducing carbon emissions since it can be used in both new and existing commercial airplanes. As many aircraft currently in service will continue to operate well into the 2040s, it becomes imperative to address their emissions through the adoption of SAF.
  3. While the emergence of electric- and hydrogen-powered aircraft is anticipated in future decades, their contribution to emissions reduction is likely to be limited until 2050. This is due to the lengthy timeframes required for the development, deployment, and necessary infrastructure changes at airports and pipelines.
  4. The renewal of aircraft fleets with fuel-efficient airplanes is projected to have a significant impact on emissions reduction in the coming years.

Neil Titchener, the Cascade Program Leader, highlighted that the tool helps airline operators, industry partners, and policymakers understand the effects of different fuel sources on their sustainability goals. With the challenging decisions ahead, Cascade serves as a conversation starter, facilitating discussions on each decarbonization pathway and its potential in reaching a more sustainable future.

Boeing introduced Cascade to the public during its inaugural Sustainable Aerospace Together Forum, a conference that brought together leaders from commercial aviation, government, and the energy and finance sectors. The event was streamed live by FT Live, and recorded sessions will be made available for viewing.

In addition to the model’s release, Boeing has established the Cascade User Community, a working group comprising key organizations such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), NASA, the University of Cambridge’s Aviation Impact Accelerator, and the MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment. This community will provide feedback on new features, functionalities, and application programming interfaces, ensuring that the tool continues to evolve

and remains effective in facilitating informed discussions towards achieving the industry’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

The Cascade User Community will play a crucial role in the ongoing development and improvement of the tool. By engaging industry experts, researchers, and policymakers, the community will provide valuable feedback on new features and functionalities, ensuring that Cascade remains a robust and relevant resource for the aviation sector.

Boeing’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Chris Raymond, expressed the importance of the Cascade User Community, stating that it will contribute to the continuous refinement of the tool and its data sources. By harnessing the expertise and knowledge of the community members, Boeing aims to enhance the effectiveness and accuracy of Cascade, enabling more informed and productive discussions on achieving net zero emissions.

The release of the Cascade Climate Impact Model and the establishment of the Cascade User Community reflect Boeing’s commitment to sustainable aviation. By providing access to this data-driven tool and promoting collaboration, the company is taking proactive steps towards addressing the environmental impact of aviation and fostering a more sustainable future for the industry.

As the aviation sector strives to reduce its carbon footprint and achieve net zero emissions, tools like the Cascade Climate Impact Model will play a crucial role in guiding decision-making processes. By analyzing various sustainability solutions, such as the use of sustainable aviation fuel, fleet renewal, and operational efficiency improvements, the tool provides valuable insights into the most effective pathways towards decarbonization.

The release of the Boeing Cascade Climate Impact Model marks a significant milestone in the pursuit of net zero carbon emissions in aviation. By providing a comprehensive data modeling tool accessible to the public, Boeing is promoting collaboration and fostering informed discussions across the industry. With the engagement of the Cascade User Community and the continuous refinement of the tool, the aviation sector is taking proactive steps towards achieving a more sustainable future.