If passenger consumes 10 L , then…: Water consumption in Aviation


There is no doubt that the aviation industry has a huge impact not only on the economy, people, but nature as well. To celebrate World Water Day, which is held on the 22nd of March, Skycop looked into how the aviation industry reduces their impact on our planet by reducing water consumption.

In 2017 Airplane manufacturer Airbus reported, that company’s total water consumption was 4,011,897 m3. They presented steps to reduce their water consumption impact. Instead of using drinking water for industrial and sanitary needs, Airbus in Hamburg now treats river water, resulting in significant savings. In Spain waterless urinals will be installed at all sites and air-cooled pumps are replacing water-cooled versions. Improved irrigation and revamped landscaping are helping conserve water usage in Texas, USA.

Airlines also make changes to leave a less damaging impact on nature. For example, KLM was among the first airlines to switch to the EcoShine method to clean aircraft’s exterior in 2012, in hopes to keep water consumption to a minimum. This semi-dry washing technique requires 80 times less water than the previous system (150 liters instead of 12,000 liters to clean a Boeing 777) and saves up to 8 000 000 liters of water each year. Emirates saved 11 000 000 liters of water a year, after adopting this initiative in April 2016.

Turning the focus on minimizing the water consumption might also be financially beneficial to the airlines, because fuel consumption is directly affected by the weight of the aircraft and its load. In 2018 Finnair adjusted the standard water uplift volume, gaining annual fuel savings of 100 tones.

Environment and Ecology Research by Merve Özlem Vurmaz and Hülya Boyacioglu defined airports as facilities having large water consumption, generally for non-potable purposes such as water cooling systems, fire control, cleaning and washing of vehicles, runways and aircrafts and also public uses (WC, food service). Research’s, that focused on water consumption footprinting of an airport located in Turkey, results showed that annual water consumption was about 436000 m3 /year. Irrigation, fire control system, cooling towers and terminal WC use accounted high use with a rate of 23%, 7%, 26% and 20 %. Water used for WC and food consumption fluctuated between 6.5-10 L per pax in the airport. And that’s shocking knowing that around 4.3 billion passengers were carried on scheduled flights in 2018.

Airports recognize their impact and are conserving water in a variety of ways: by using reclaimed water for irrigation, street sweeping, construction dust control, and car washing; by using advanced water purification systems; by installing water-saving low-flow fixtures in restrooms; by finding options for stormwater management, etc.

There is no way to entirely eliminate aviation’s impact on nature, but reducing it as much as possible is the way to go. But if any airline goes greedy over green and refuses to pay compensation for your disrupted flight, get in touch with Skycop to help you in your fight for what’s rightfully yours.

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