Plane Truth

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Campaign groups

There are local groups opposing unsustainable aviation expansion all over the world. A few are listed on the links page along with some sources of useful information reducing the environmental damage of transport and alternatives to flying.
 

From my bookshelves

 

Some books I highly recommend:


Take Back the Sky: Protecting Communities in the Path of Aviation Expansion

by Rae André

Sierra Club Books, 2004

This book examines the commercial interests driving aviation expansion in the US, and how citizens can regain control of their local skies. André draws on her own experience as a 'flight-path dweller' in Massachusetts and she looks at the struggles of several airport communities in the US. When the book was written upwards of 2,000 airports were pursuing expansion plans, regardless of the impacts on neighbouring communities, blighted by noise and harmful air pollutants. The role of regulatory bodies, and how they have been captured to protect unbridled commercial interests, is examined.


Over My Head: An activist group fights an airport expansion. A personal story of community grassroots, toxic emissions and far too many cancer deaths by Debi Wagner

Trafford Publishing, 2011

The author of this book spent 17 years campaigning against a third runway at Sea-Tac (Seattle Tacoma) Airport and investigating the environmental and health damage. She uncovered alarming evidence of higher rates of certain types of cancer and respiratory diseases in communities living near airports.


Tangled Wings: Gatwick seen through green-tinted glasses

by Brendon Sewill

Aviation Environment Federation, 2012

Brendon Sewill has served as chair of Gatwick Area Conservation Committee since 1990. Gatwick, in southeast England, is one of few major airports to have just one runway, largely due to the tenacity of residents of a small village, Charlwood, in fending off expansion plans. This book documents the campaign, from petitions to public meetings, from opposing planning applications to sending photographs of every house that stood to be demolished to the UK Prime Minister.


Climate Change and Aviation: Issues, Challenges and Solutions

edited by Stefan Gossling and Paul Upham

Earthscan, 2009

This book tackles the complexities of aviation's climate impacts, the response from the industry and governments, and the wider sociopolitical context. Issues of equity and comparative emissions are addressed in sections on  frequent flyers and hypermobile travellers. Other contributors provide an in-depth and balanced assessments of the potential for technological advancements to reduce aviation's greenhouse gas emissions.


Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil by Richard Gilbert and Anthony Perl

New Society Publishers, 2010

Aviation's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, and the need to constrain growth, making a modal shift to surface transport where possible, is well recognised. This book looks at how to actually bring this about. Various scenarios for more sustainable long-distance transportation, considering the influence of key factors such as the oil price, are explored.

Why Noise Matters: A Worldwide Perspective on the Problems, Policies and Solutions

by John Stewart with Arline L Bronzaft, Francis McManus, Nigel Rodgers and Val Weedon

Earthscan, 2011

Evidence of increased risk of serious health damage from noise, including high blood pressure, is mounting. This book covers many sources of high noise levels, from all kinds of transport to workplace machinery, from piped music to noisy neighbours. Communities living near airports and under flightpaths are subjected to particularly high levels of aircraft noise. It is not merely an unpleasant inconvenience.


Air Transport and the Environment by Ben Daley

Ashgate, 2010

This book provides a comprehensive overview of aviation's environmental impacts, encompassing air pollution, aircraft noise, the contribution to climate change, ecological damage from construction of airports, habitat degradation, land contamination, waste generation, water consumption and water pollution. In addition, it is an important analysis of many aspects of the social and economic impacts of aviation, asking critical questions about, and offering many insights into, the costs and benefits.


The History of Air Cargo and Airmail from the 18th Century by Camille Allaz

Christopher Foyle Publishing in association with The International Air Cargo Association, 2005

This book is a thorough, well informed and humorous account of the history of air cargo, from the earliest hot air balloons to express, all categories from airmail, flowers to livestock, consumer goods and industrial equipment. The book is enthusiastic about the air cargo industry, whereas I am critical of it and advocate shifting transport of goods to road, rail and ship where possible. Yet this aviation enthusiast's bible does not shy away from some of the flaws and failings of the industry.


Aerotropolis: The Way We’ll Live Next

by John Kasarda and Greg Lindsay

Allen Lane, 2011

The authors of this book are advocates of the aerotropolis, or airport city. These airport-centric developments are proliferating around the world. I disagree with the book's argument that aerotropoli are 'economic engines' driving growth of the host region, and the environmental damage of aviation growth is glossed over. But Aerotropolis is an informative, interesting and lively account of the development of some of the largest airport cities. It is packed with insights into the nexus of government and corporate power that is driving aviation expansion.


Beyond Flying: Rethinking air travel in a globally connected world

by Chris Watson

Green Books, 2014

A collection of essays by 14 writers from all over the world, all of whom recognised the damage caused by aviation and made a commitment to reduce flying. The book does not sugar coat the challenges facing people who wish to cut down of the number of flights they take. Reducing flying is one of the most effective actions for reducing an individual's carbon footprint, but it requires considerable advance planning. While surface travel, by road, rail and ship, offers a richer travel experience, appreciating the places passed through on the journey, it is often logistically more difficult, and more expensive. The contributors' explain how they overcame challenges such as locating a cargo ship and the physical endurance required for epic cycling journeys.

 

Aviation industry bodies

 
Aviation biofuels - industry organisations
 

Aviation research & analysis

Centre for Aviation (CAPA)


Global Airport Cities

Aerotropolis developments, where an airport is surrounded by urbanisation, are planned and in construction all over the world.


GreenAir

Independent news, features and statistics about aviation's impact impact on the environment


SIPRI - Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

Examining the role of air transport research in the transfer of destabilising commodities - valuable minerals - in Africa and South America. Tools and training for ethical transportation


FlightAware

Free live flight tracking of commercial and private aircraft, covering over 45 countries. The website shows routine flight routes, the site shows the flightpaths in the event of route diversions and accidents. There are also weather maps and navigation charts.

 

Aviation industry & trade press

You won't find out much about the aviation industry from taking flights and visiting passenger terminals. My main resource for the book was the aviation industry's own trade press.

Air Cargo News
News about the air cargo industry - airport cargo facilities development, tyes of cargo and volumes, routes, airlines' and airports' financial performance

Air Cargo World
News about the air cargo industry - airport cargo facilities development, tyes of cargo and volumes, routes, airlines' and airports' financial performance

Airport Technology
Useful background on airport construction

Aviation News
Website for aviation professionals - aircraft crew, ground handling, engineering, aircraft repair & maintenance and airport employees

Cargo News Asia

Defense Aviation
A military aviation news and information website. Useful for researching military aircraft and government procurement and deployment programmes. The website is aimed at enthusiasts - as well as the defence industry and researchers, so the tone of much of the content - about death machines, is often celebratory, as indicated by the website subheading - 'Metal Under Tension'.

Aviation Benefits Beyond Borders
A website about the commercial aviation industry's sustainability efforts, from the Air Transport Action Group (http://www.atag.org )

Flightglobal

The Fuel Handler
This website covers the entire fuel handling sector, which includes aviation. It has useful information about new infrastructure, safety, and when this goes wrong, resulting in fuel leaks and accidents.

Moodie Report
Travel retail and duty free. Billions of pounds worth of goods are sold at airports and in-flight. Duty free goods are a massive tax break benefiting the aviation industry.

Passenger Terminal Today

Payload Asia

UAS Vision
Useful info about drones from this independent global forum for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems community

EcoFlight
Aerial photos and educational programmes to encourage environmental stewardship. Interesting use of small aircraft to advocate for protection of remaining wild lands and wildlife habitats - 'giving the land a voice'.

WFP Aviation
World Food Programme delivery of emergency food aid
 

Aviation safety

Aviation Safety Network
The best online database of aviation accidents and safety incidents, all over the world.

Aviation Herald
Detailed daily listing of safety incidents including bird strikes, runway excursions and engine malfunctions.

GCAQE (Global Cabin Air Quality Executive)
The cabin breathing air supply on all aircraft (apart from the Boeing 787) is taken directly from the engines. It is not filtered and is known to become contaminated with engine oils and/or hydraulic fluids. Evidence is mounting that crew and passengers suffer health damage as a result of exposure to contaminated cabin air.

Aerotoxic Association
Information and support for people affected by Aerotoxic Syndrome, an illness caused by exposure to contaminated cabin air.
 

Private jets

Travel by private jet is even more carbon intensive than commercial jets. These are some websites for owners of private jets (also yachts and luxury cars), that only an extremely wealthy minority can afford. I find it interesting to see how marketing is used to flatter the super-rich into opening their wallets.

JetSet Magazine
The Affluent Lifestyle Magazine

Executive Travel
Quite an insight into the lifestyle of the privileged few that can afford first class flights and private jets

Stratos Magazine - Journey Beyond First Class
They're not kidding

PrivateJet.com
Invitation to the Uber Lifestyle
 
In-Depth Reports
Here are just a few examples of substantive research and reports, good in-depth studies that stand the test of time.

Stressed and Fatigued on the Ground and in the Sky: Changes from 2000 - 2007 in civil aviation workers' conditions of work
International Transport Workers Federation, Civil Aviation Section, 2009
This report documents the decline in working conditions for civil aviation workers, due to deregulation, cost reduction, cut throat competition and the use of new technological innovations. A severe level of stress and fatigue among cabin crew, ground staff and air traffic service workers is widespread, it has become a global pandemic.

Predict and decide: Aviation, climate change and UK policy
Sally Cairns & Carey Newson, Environmental Change Institute, 2006
This report assesses the climate change impacts of UK aviation, and the implications of government policy that presumes, and supports, major expansion. Policies, including economic instruments, for mitigating aviation impacts and constraining growth are recommended.

Plane Truths: Do the economic arguments for aviation growth really fly?
New Economics Foundation & World Development Movement, 2008
This report challenges the economic arguments for continued growth of UK aviation. Taking into account subsidies to aviation, the industry's economic contribution to the UK is negligible. Analysis of the relationships between aviation, tourism and development in poorer countries reveals that the vast majority of tourism income 'leaks' out of the host country to foreign owned firms. Increased fuel efficiency is overstated and dwarfed by aviation growth.

Flying in the Face of Fairness: Intergenerational Inequities in the Taxation of Air Travel
Peter Lockley and Simon Dresner, Intergenerational Foundation, October 2012
This report analyses the intergenerational implications of aviation subsidies in the UK, in particular tax free fuel and exemption from VAT. The subsidies disproportionately benefit older people, who are wealthier and fly more. A disproportionate proportion of the burden of the economic and environmental costs is borne by younger people. An even higher share of the disbenefits will fall on future generations. It presents a compelling case for phasing out subsidies, which would constrain the growth of air travel and reduce the pressure for building new runways.

Flying in the face of facts: Greenwashing the aviation industry with biofuels
Friends of the Earth Europe with Hannah Griffiths and Robbie Blake, June 2011
This report shows that use of biofuels, made from plants, is a false solution to aviation's dependence on fossil fuels and high level of greenhouse gas emissions. Life cycle analysis, taking into account the energy used in growing and producing biofuels, shows that greenhouse gas emissions can be even higher than conventional kerosene made from oil. Plantations displace food crops, contributing to rising food pries and hunger. Biofuels serve to present a green image, but are a mere diversion from the urgent need to reduce aviation's fuel use, which means curbing expansion.

Eco-Skies: The global rush for aviation biofuel
Lukas Ross, Oakland Institute, 2013
Airlines' rush to procure biofuels, to supplement the supply of conventional kerosene derived from oil, comes at great expense to people and the environment. Enormous areas of land are diverted from food production to supply the biofuel crops, contributing to a global land-grabbing crisis that is destroying food security land rights. The report examines several biofuel feedstocks and the role of government mandates in driving demand for biofuels. In spite of a high level of subsidies, it is likely that aviation biofuels will not be economically viable.

Biokerosene: Taking off in the wrong direction
Geert Ritsema, WALHI - Friends of the Earth Indonesia & Milieu Defensie, 2012
Lufthansa conducted a trial of aviation biofuel - biokerosene - made from jatropha, an inedible shrub. This report examines the terrible impact on farmers in Central Java, Indonesia, who cultivated jatropha for the project. The government promoted jatropha as a lucrative 'money tree', but there was an erosion of food security as it was planted in the place of food crops, and farmers suffered severe economic losses. Negative environmental impacts of biokerosene include emormous land requirements, deforestation and a high level of greenhouse gas emissions.  

Flights of fancy: A case study on aviation and EU funds in Poland 
Przemek Kalinka, Polish Green Network, CEE Bankwatch, 2012
In spite of austerity a substantial amount of European Union funds has been spent on small regional airports in Poland, which also depend on funding from regional and state budgets. The report also looks at allocation of public funds to rail connections for regional airports, and makes the case that this would be better spent on improving regional mobility.

Grounded: A new approach to evaluating runway 3 
New Economics Foundation, 2010
An authoratitive study showing the flaws in the case for a third runway at Heathrow Airport. The proponents' arguments are based on over-optimistic forecasts and impact assessments based on a narrow set of assumptions. A Social Return on Investment analysis is used to develop a more comprehensive picture of the costs and benefits of the proposed third runway, factoring in a range of social and environmental impacts. In addiition, economic factors such as the growth rate, exchange rates and the carbon price were considered. NEF's analysis concluded that, in contrast with government assessment that the net benefit for society would be £5.5 billion, the new runway would result in a net cost, of between £5-7.5 billion.

John Stewart, December 2010
Communities opposing expansion of an existing airport can learn a great deal from the story of how a diverse coalition stopped a third runway at Heathrow in its tracks. People living under flightpath facing increased pollution and noise united with a wide range of environmental organisations, challenged the economic case for a new runways, and even found a few friends within the government. Unfortunately, plans lay dormant rather than dead; the UK government backtracked on pre-election commitments not to build a third runway. But the campaign has been resurrected and the powerful lobby for Heathrow expansion faces formidable opposition.

A Sea of Protest across Europe: A HACAN publication exposing the myth that it is only in the UK that there is effective opposition to airport expansion
John Stewart, HACAN (Heathrow Association for the Control of Aircraft Noise), 2012
There are lots of groups opposing unsustainable aviation expansion all over Europe, with notable victories in Italy, Germany and the UK. Many thousands of people have participated in a 'sea of protest' that belies UK expansion proponents argument that communities in other countries are not opposed to airport expansion. When democratic processes fail people have reacted with occupations, marches, and hunger strikes by people who could lose farmland for a new airport in Nantes, France. In recent years groups throughout Europe have begun to collaborate more closely.

Andal Aerotropolis: A Fact-Finding Report
Sanhati, May 2010
Acquisition of agricultural land for an 'aerotropolis' (an airport surrounded by new urban development including shopping malls, business premises,hotels, housing etc.) in Andal, Bengal has been met with resistance by farmers. This is a report from a visit to the project area to gauge the reactions of villagers. The majority of affected people were ill-informed about the project and doubtful that they would benefit, fearing low compensation for land acquisition and lack of employment at the aerotropolis. Farm labourers who did not own land faced loss of livelihood from farms they had tended, with no compensation.

Global Deal or No Deal? Your free guide to ICAO's 38th Triennial Assembly
Transport & Environment, September 2013
Under the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) is obliged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation. Yet the ICAO, heavily influenced by powerful industry bodies and riven by tensions between regions, has failed to commit to a process for achieving emissions reduction. The report also proposes a way forward for a MBM (market based mechanism) for emissions reduction and suggests further measures such as encouraging states and regions to take action in advance of global measures, a CO2 standard for new aircraft and accelerating improvements to air traffic control systems.

From Planes To Trains: Realising the potential for shifting short-haul flights to rail
Aviation Environment Federation for Friends of the Earth, 2000
Greenhouse gas emissions from transport can be reduced by replacing flights with surface travel, by road, rail and ship. This is most feasible for short-haul flights and this report examines the potential for transferring short haul flights to and from the UK within Europe, including domestic flights, onto rail. Lines with the greatest scope for cutting large volumes of air traffic are identified and the potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions is quantified.

High Flyers: How Private Jet Travel Is Straining the System, Warming the Planet, and Costing You Money
Institute for Policy Studies + Essential Action, 2008
This US report looks at the environmental damage caused by private jets, which is far higher per passenger than commercial aircraft. It also examines the subsidies lavished on private jets, for luxury flights that are only enjoyed by a privileged few.

Airport Jobs: False hopes, cruel hoax
Brendon Sewill, Aviation Environment Federation, 2009
The aviation industry claims that expansion brings high levels of employment. This investigation into the links between airport capacity expansion and job creation in the UK showed that the level of employment was far lower than claimed. In addition, the net outflow of tourists, in comparison to visitors to the UK, results in a 'tourism deficit' with a loss of about 700,000 jobs.

The Hidden Cost of Flying
Brendon Sewill, Aviation Environment Federation, 2003
A pioneering report from the UK exposing the high level of tax breaks to the aviation industry. Fuel tax exemption, duty free goods and a host of other tax breaks support aviation growth. Growth patterns then inform government and industry forecasts for future growth. The report critiques many purported economic benefits of aviation expansion, including increased productivity, and finds that the benefits of increased tourism, exports of high value goods and inward investment are exaggerated.

Pie in the Sky: Why the costs of airport expansion outweigh the benefits 
Friends of the Earth, September 2006
Proponents of airport expansion always trot out the same arguments that the inevitable result will be astonishing economic benefits. This report examines the economic implications of the UK governments airport expansion plans. The projected economic benefits are exaggerated across the board. Negative effects on other sectors of the economy and the cost of supporting infrastructure, most importantly road networks, are ignored. The importance of proximity to an airport in business investment decisions, including hi-tech firms, is overstated. In addition, the economic impacts of environmental damage, including health damage from air pollution and demolition of homes, are not considered.

The "Action" at O'Hare: The Corruption of the Public Policy Process Leading to O'Hare Expansion
J. Terrence Brunner, 2004
Vast numbers of passengers and volumes of cargo flow through major airports. Vast amounts of money flow through as well, including lucrative contracts for construction, operations and concessions such as shops and restaurants in passenger terminals. This unique investigation exposes corruption in the planning process and award of contracts for expansion of Chicago O'Hare Airport, one of the largest in the world.

Air Transport and Destabilizing Commodity Flows
Hugh Griffiths & Mark Bromley,
SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute), 2009
Air transport is of strategic importance to the transfer of illicit weapons to Africa, and of the valuable metals, minerals and fossil fuels which are a factor in conflict. Many of the carriers that have been involved in these 'destabilising commodity flows', simultaneously held contracts for humanitarian aid, peace and stability operations. The supply chains of of illicit weapons and valuable resources are extremely complex, but effective monitoring and regulation of air transport is achievable, and could choke off the flow.

The Arms Flyers: Commercial Aviation, Human Rights, and the Business of War and Arms
Peter Dansssaer & Sergio Finardi
IPIS (International Peace Information Service) June 2011
There is a long history of civilian air transport firms providing logistics support for armed conflict, for deploying and mobilising troops and delivery of military equipment. In the past two decades the role of air cargo carriers has increased. This report addresses legal/licit arms transfers which comply with national and international laws, arms transfers to state actors involved in gross human rights abuses and illegal/illicit transfers made in conscious violation of laws and regulations. Specific conflicts and arms flows are covered in detail. The report concludes that the majority of commercial air carriers support for legal, as well as illegal, armed conflict is irresponsible according to international law or human rights standards.

Paula F. Cowan, M.D., May 1997
In cold winter conditions, enormous volumes of de-icing fluid, containing glycols, are sprayed onto aircraft. A proportion of the the run-off can be captured, but some airports leave it to drain into waterways, resulting in serious damage to aquatic life. This 1997 report on glycol pollution from Chicago O'Hare Airport is a rare examination of the environmental impacts. The containment system was inadequate and de-icing fluid was flowing into creeks running though residential areas.

The Panhandle Paradox
Hal Herring, August 2009
A wonderful article on the development of a new airport on heavily forested, biodiverse wetlands in Florida. Approval and construction moved forward inexorably in spite of lawsuits from environmental organisations and rejection of the project in a referendum. Vast amounts of public money poured in, even though the main beneficiary is a private landowner and developer, and the report gives many insights into how democratic processes and regulation failed to protect the public interest. The airport project aims to facilitate further urban development, drawing in further public funds for roads and other infrastructure and paving over more of the wetlands and forest for industrial, residential and recreational areas.

Change Tourism, not Climate! Time is running out for tourism leaders to clear the air
Anita Pleumarom, Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team (T.I.M. TEAM), November 09
Tourism is a major contributor to climate change, and emissions from air transport are a key factor. Yet the industry is exempt from global greenhouse gas reduction targets and is allowed to grow indiscriminately. This paper challenges the assumption that tourism is an economic panacaea for poor countries, bringing beneficial development and reducing poverty. Increasingly tourism is controlled by foreign corporations, which reap the majority of income leaving only a trickle for host communities. So-called 'ecotourism', to the most remote and most pristine corners of the world, typically involves the most energy intensive travel and often wreaks havoc on land and marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of indigenous peoples.

Voice of Takae: What is going on in Takae, Okinawa
nohelipadtakae.org, October 2013
The US has a heavy military presence on Okinawa Island, Japan. Existence and expansion of the military facilities is opposed by a wide range of pro-democracy and environmental organisations. A large area of the biodiverse Yanbaru forest, on the northern tip of the island, is occupied by a US military training ground. New helipads, for MV22 Osprey aircraft, are planned, in what is currently pristine forest close to the village of Takae. Residents of Takae already suffer high levels of noise from low altitude flight exercises, including during the night, and there are concerns over the aricraft's safety. Takae villagers have sustained a sit-in protest against the new helipads since 2007.

John Lannon, Shannonwatch, August 2012
Shannonwatch monitors foreign military use of Shannon Airport, in the southwest of Ireland. In 2003, the airport was used for the US led invasion of Iraq. Ever since, the airport has been used for US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, handling troops and munitions. The airport has also been used for rendition flights, for the CIA's covert programme of kidnapping and torturing people. Shannon Airport's support for the US military is in violation of Irish neutrality.

The Financial Cost of Ireland’s Support for the United States Military
Shannonwatch, 2012
Shannon Airport, in the southwest of Ireland, is used extensively by the US military. This costs €4 million annually in government funds, for additional security and air traffic services.

A report which assesses the facts behind the UK air freight industry; its contribution to the economy; its impact on the environment and local communities
Rose Bridger, Airport Watch, 2009
Yep this is by me, it does what the title says.

Supplement to UK Air Freight Report
Rose Bridger, Airport Watch, 2009
This is the research detail for my the Air Freight: The Impacts report - listing the freight activities and expansion plans of all the main airports in the UK.