Millennials and aviation: Developing sustainable technologies

business aviation

Jürgen Wiese, Chairman of European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) states the case for why millennials should fly with us, including the role of developing sustainable technologies in the aviation sector

The word ‘millennial’ and the term ‘business aviation’ are rarely found together in the same
sentence, but when they are, they tend to get on very well.

At EBAA, the industry association for business aviation, we see many millennials working in jobs throughout the sector. But we wanted to learn more about their views on business aviation and the future of flying. So we surveyed them.

With the help of ThinkYoung, a research and advocacy group for young people, we spoke to 2,000 people between 18 and 25 in four key European countries – Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. We wanted to find out what this generation really thinks not just about flying, but bigger questions about transport and the world.

What did we find? Millennials have much to tell us. They are hopeful and idealist about what sort of world they expect to live in. They are also pragmatic about how they see transport: this is a generation which has always known about cheap flying. These are people who can get to where they want more easily than any previous generation and they believe that flying will become simpler and cleaner in years to come.

There were three key findings from the survey:

• Millennials associate transport closely with the environment: 40% describe climate change as the megatrend with the biggest impact on the development of sustainable personal air transport. Artificial intelligence (AI) and digitisation come next. They also expect most research on innovation in aviation to focus on making air transport more sustainable.

• Millennials say the best thing about business aviation is the freedom and flexibility that it offers: 62% believe that the main benefit of business aviation its ability to take people where they need, when they need.

• Millennials believe that while technology will find solutions to mobility questions, there will still be concerns about cost, trust and safety. For example, 60% of millennials are ready to use ride-sharing air services, but only 46% are ready to use automated ride-sharing air services.

All in all, millennials see the value of business aviation as part of a range of modern, environmental, mobility options. They also recognise its potential for driving technological change in the entire aviation sector. They can see its increasing accessibility and democratisation. And they can see its appeal as a career choice for young talent interested in technology, digitalisation and innovation.

These findings reflect the optimism and idealism of the younger generation. They reveal how millennials see mobility as a choice between different modes for different journeys. And how they balance their right to travel with their responsibility to look after the planet. Millennials have values and interests that they cherish: they love to travel; they are early adopters of new technologies and they believe strongly in a cleaner environment. These are also the values and interests of business aviation.

This is a sector that is by definition taking people to places that might otherwise be out of bounds – and chartering a plane has never been easier.

This is a pioneering industry which is constantly investing in research and technology to ensure it has the ambition to shape the future of personal air transport.

And this is a community committed to developing sustainable technologies to lower carbon emissions and reduce its impact on environmental resources.

After hearing when millennials had to say, we took their messages on board. And we are ready to make commitments to them. Here is what we pledge:

• Firstly, on climate change, we share millennial concerns about the damage that air transport can have on the environment. We recognise that we are not only part
of the problem but can play a vital role in the solution. We have committed to reducing our emissions through the use of fossil fuels. This commitment does not just apply to our energy use, but our manufacturing, our infrastructure and our operations.

• Secondly, we are continuing to invest in research and technology to ensure we are a pioneering industry. We want people to travel fast, quietly, safely and with minimal impact on the environment. Innovations are helping achieve that, with technologies like winglets, new avionics systems and new composite materials to build stronger and lighter aircraft.

• And thirdly, we are becoming more open and accessible than ever before. Business aviation is often seen as an exclusive realm but chartering a plane has never been easier. And for people thinking of a career in business aviation, there are more diverse job opportunities than ever before. These are our commitments to millennials. We listened, we learned and now we want to fly with you.

Read our full report here.

Jürgen Wiese
European Business Aviation Association (EBAA)
Tel: (+32) 2 318 28 00


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