With the business aviation industry focused increasingly on sustainability, NBAA will formally launch its Leadership in a Sustainable Flight Department accreditation program next month at NBAA-BACE in Las Vegas, according to Stewart D’Leon, the organization’s director of environmental and technical operations. Speaking on Wednesday at AIN’s Building a Sustainable Flight Department Conference in Tarrytown, New York, he noted that the audit-based program, which has been under development for three years, will provide a standardized way for NBAA members to demonstrate measures they are taking to reduce their environmental footprints.
The program is designed to promote sustainability best practices for flight departments and other entities and is being supported by the organization’s newly established environmental subcommittee, which offers real-life operational input from members while serving as a sounding board for the future development of the accreditation goals.
A trial sustainable flight operations program announced by NBAA on Earth Day in April recently concluded. It featured Adobe, Starbucks, and four other member companies and used their 2019 data as a baseline. “The feedback that we’ve heard from the membership is that this is really great—that they finally have a single source to go to for all this,” said D’Leon.
The accreditation program, which includes an auditing function, is designed to serve not just flight departments but maintenance providers, charter companies, FBOs, and operators, he explained. "We want to offer recognition for our members who are doing so much in this space. The trial period enabled NBAA and a consultant hired to help analyze the results to adjust the program and add to the guidance material and other documents needed for participation.
Program participants will be able to choose various independent accreditation elements; not all the elements—flight, operations, ground support, and infrastructure—apply to every kind of company or operation. "We designed it this way because we have a diverse group in our membership," he said. An FBO or maintenance provider, for example, wouldn't need the flight portion of the accreditation. “Even if they are doing these piecemeal items, this is going to allow them to structure everything.”
Flight and other service providers, D'Leon said, "need a pathway to sustainability, and this allows them to build a program step by step to a more sustainable future. We want to offer recognition for members that are doing so much in this space. It's a commitment to meaningful change, but it's an attainable reduction. It does not do our industry any good if we present something that's not attainable."
D'Leon assured the Building a Sustainable Flight Department Conference audience that programs like this are not designed to encourage operators to fly less or for businesses to reduce activities to try to cut emissions. "We want to work together to make business aviation environmentally sustainable," he said. "We want business aviation to continue to grow and develop but in a smart and responsible way."