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4AIR aims to reduce private aviation’s footprint

4AIR enables all private aviation stakeholders to participate in the transition for the future of sustainable aviation.


Given the state of the world, the private aviation industry has made sweeping commitments to sustainability, announcing in 2020 its pledge to making flying net-zero by 2050.

Sustainable Aviation members, including most major airlines and airports, and aerospace manufacturers developed a “decarbonisation road map”. The plan outlines potential reductions including smarter flight operations, and new aircraft and engine technology. It also touches on how “modernising airspace and developing sustainable aviation fuels will also contribute to reducing pollution”.

“It is important to people that their sustainability efforts are driving real change.” – Kennedy Ricci

In response, 4AIR – developed by Directional Aviation – has recently launched its emissions reduction solution. The rating system helps private aviation participants offset or reduce their carbon dioxide emissions and other climate-related pollutants. 

“Aviation directly represents two per cent of global carbon dioxide emissions,” 4AIR’s COO Sustainability Nancy Bsales explains. “But the true impact on climate is closer to five per cent when considering all emissions and non-CO2 impacts.”

Nancy acknowledges that although private aviation has made strides around sustainability, there is still much work to do.

“There are a lot of fantastic efforts for sustainability within the industry, but there is not a good way to tie these efforts together,” she notes. “The industry needed a way to make commitments more understandable for the end customer while unifying efforts into a single framework.”

Nancy further says that 4AIR wanted to take a comprehensive approach and use every tool to bring private aviation into the future sustainably. “4AIR will empower the private aviation industry to fly for the next generation using not just one solution but a combination of solutions,” she comments.

The 4AIR rating benchmarks align with industry-wide goals and are consistent with international standards. 4AIR President Kennedy Ricci tells The CEO Magazine that the company has seen a tremendous growth in both the conversation and in emerging commitments around sustainability across aviation over the past year.

“We immediately recognised a large need to create a solution to encourage transparency and comparability between those commitments while making it easier for any aviation stakeholder to participate,” Kennedy shares.

“We launched the 4AIR framework to provide an outside, independent review of an operator’s sustainability efforts and give external validation that progress is being made to the person who is sitting in the back of the plane.

“At the same time, a 4AIR rating can be a turnkey sustainability program or commitment for a company or individual. It is important to people that their sustainability efforts are driving real change.”

“4AIR will empower the private aviation industry to fly for the next generation using not just one solution but a combination of solutions,” – Nancy Bsales

The framework offers four levels: 4AIR Bronze allows members to be carbon neutral by offsetting all of their CO2 emissions with verified carbon offset credits. 4AIR Silver permits participants to be fully emissions neutral, compensating for non-CO2 impacts with verified offsets. 4AIR Gold allows partners to reduce emissions by at least five per cent, while 4AIR Platinum lets members support new technology in aviation with a contribution to the not-for-profit Aviation Climate Fund. The payment helps support research and development in aviation sustainability.

“Our ultimate philosophy is to take something that can feel very daunting – meaningful sustainability – and make it doable, make it accessible,” Kennedy says. 

“The 4AIR program is designed to empower anyone to participate in a more comprehensive sustainability, including initiatives like the development of sustainable fuels and new technology.” 

How 4AIR works

A 4AIR rating can be applied to existing sustainability efforts or offered as a turnkey full-service program. At the end of the year, 4AIR certifies the accomplishments of each company or individual based on relevant flight data (such as fuel consumption). It audits the previous year’s commitment and retires final carbon offset credits earned. Companies that achieve or surpass the level they committed would be eligible for the coming year.

“We realised that the key to successful adoption was making this as simple as possible,” Nancy explains. “Make a commitment to a certain level of sustainability and let us handle everything else.

“Our other goal is to educate the market on these newer sustainability topics. Since sustainable fuels, and our understanding of non-carbon emissions, are new, education is necessary. But as soon as it happens, the desire to get involved is there.

“Private aviation is looking to participate, and we are giving them a streamlined pathway to do so with impactful solutions,” she says.

Read next: The one airline company that’s committed to making aviation cleaner and still profitable

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