THE development of commercially viable and sustainable biofuels is essential for the aviation industry to become carbon neutral by 2020, industry players say.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has earmarked 2020 as the year when the industry will achieve carbon neutral growth. It is targeting 2 per cent annual fuel efficiency improvements from no w until then.

Boeing Australia and South Pacific president Ian Thomas says initiatives such as lighter, more aerodynamic aircraft, advances in engine technology and better air traffic control systems will help but aren't enough to achieve the desired result.

''That will probably get us to about half-way in terms of our goal of carbon neutrality,'' Dr Thomas said at the launch of a CSIRO report, Flight Path to Sustainable Aviation, yesterday.
''The other half of the picture is biofuels – sustainable aviation biofuels. Not taking farm produce off somebody's plate, but really using byproducts of current industries that don't threaten food stocks.''

The CSIRO report was commissioned by the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group, which includes Air New Zealand, Qantas and Virgin Australia, and aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus. Also involved were the Defence Science and Technology Organisation and the Climate Group. AAP

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