By the year 2020, the European aviation industry wants to reduce emissions of gases harmful to the climate – carbon dioxide by 50 percent and nitrogen oxide by 80 percent – and also improve the lifecycles of the aircrafts themselves. “Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)” is the term experts use to describe the systematic assessment of the adverse environmental impact of aircraft components in use. The analysis comprises all of the environmental impact that a product has caused throughout the course of its entire life cycle – from production to use to recycling or disposal.

High-performance software is needed to collect these data. These programs are very complex and are currently usually operated by external experts with specific LCA expertise. A further drawback: for the most part, this software only records the relevant data and processes after the fact. Researchers have now developed a computer program with which environmental impact of aircraft components can be taken into account even at the design stage, during the R&D stage, and before production begins.

This “Eco-Design Software Tool” is based on an aviation database containing LCA-based environmental information on a host of reference components. Another key element of the new software is specially programmed LCA background models. With these models, designers can vary scenarios with various components and get an immediate picture of how different materials, construction options, or processes affect the environmental performance. The designer does not have to perform detailed analysis and can instead compare the selected components to the reference component settings given in the Eco-Design Tool.

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