34,000 New Commercial Airplanes Worldwide by 2031The American plane-maker Boeing just came out with a forecast for China's airplane needs for the next 20 years, and the numbers are pretty impressive: 5,260 new commercial airplanes valued at $670 billion. This would make China the second largest market for new commercial airplanes.
"It's impressive that over 75 percent of the demand in China will be for growth instead of replacement," said Randy Tinseth, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of Marketing. "Sustained strong economic growth, growing trade activities and increasing personal wealth are some of the driving forces. Travelers also care about increased connectivity, efficiency and lower prices."Worldwide, Boeing projects investments of $4.5 trillion for 34,000 new commercial airplanes to be delivered during the next 20 years.
Putting it in ContextIn many regards, air travel is great. It fosters understanding between cultures and cooperation between countries, and it makes travel accessible to almost everybody, so they can see their loved ones even if they live far away. But there are also negatives because all these planes run on fossil fuels, and since the number of planes is going up so fast, even if each individual plane is getting more fuel efficient over time, the sheer number of planes in the air means that CO2 emissions from air travel is going to go up dramatically if we don't do something.
What could that something be?
The most obvious solutions are 1) a radical change in airplane geometry to make them much more fuel-efficient and carry more passenger (thus compound the benefits in CO2 per passenger/mile) and 2) run them on carbon-neutral biofuels from non-food sources (algae, camelina, switchgrass, waste biomass, whatever).