Aviation sustainability: Why United Airlines is very optimistic

From eVTOLs to the supersonic Boom aircraft: United Airlines has no shortage of pioneering projects in the pipeline. Richard Schuurman catches up with Lauren Riley, its chief sustainability officer, to learn more.

In 2015, United Airlines made a $30m equity investment in Fulcrum BioEnergy and agreed to purchase at least 90 million gals per year of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF). The deal was one of the first to involve a major global airline committing to sustainability on such a large scale. In the years that have followed, the Chicago-based carrier has invested in electric aircraft including projects with Heart Aerospace, eVTOLs from Archer and Eve, hydrogen-electric propulsion with ZeroAvia and, perhaps most notably, supersonic alternatives with Boom Overture. These platforms, along with numerous other initiatives, form part of United’s wider goal to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2035 and become net-zero by 2050.

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