One of the world’s largest aviation industry fairs – Paris Air Show 2023 – is behind us. The event is not only an air show, but also a place of debate about the future of aviation. On the second day of the event, was organized the debate “ReThink Aviation” , devoted to circularity in aviation, i.e. the use of new materials in the production of aircraft, their manufacturing, maintenance, replacement and reuse.

The “ReThink Aviation” debate, was conducted by the duo: Rosalinde van der Vlies, Director of Clean Planet at DG RTD and Dr. Eng. Paweł Stężycki, EREA Chairman, Director of the Łukasiewicz – Institute of Aviation. The event was organised by the European Commission, the General Directorate of Research and Development (DG RTD) and EREA Association.

As Dr. Eng. Stężycki said, to fully support the decarbonisation of aviation, we should also pay attention to the circularity of materials and their life cycle. This process should have started already 10 years ago because a product needs to be put into production, and it won’t happen right away. This starts at the drawing board and at the designing stage.

Recycling in aviation

During the debate, the invited panelists replied to the questions on activities related to the use and recycling of the airplane or its parts, described their company’s policies or activities in the context of circularity and how to approach the scientific and research environment.

Panelists: Isabell Gradert (Airbus), Lionel G.Roques (Tarmac AEROSAVE), Fatima da Gloria de Sousa (Air France/KLM) and Ligeia Paletti (NLR, Circularity Expert) pointed out that many actions have already been done but are not visible. It is important to reconcile economic effects with environmental benefits. It is possible to achieve aviation with a closed circuit and competitive, but it cannot be done with technology alone. The cooperation of every stakeholder – industry, research institutes, universities and the European Commission – is important.

Changes in aviation until 2050

The panel was summarised by Rosalinde van der Vlies and Paweł Stężycki.  Director of the Łukasiewicz – Institute of Aviation stressed that in order to be able to reach the ambitious goals stated by the European Commission, we must act now. The introduction of legislation and regulations for the circularity of materials (their production, use and recycling, reusing and disposal) is a significant factor that will improve and speed up changes by 2050. The most important thing, however, is to keep the safety in aviation on the same level as it is now.


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