The aviation industry has come a long way in growth and technological advancement since 1783; today many commercial flights occupy the skies than has ever before. All over the world, there has been an increase in the number of flights with an estimated growth of 12% per year. An increase in wright passengers, a 5% increment annually, is a reported rise than any other travel mode. This rise also includes increased flight routes to new destination enhancing the air transport. Airfreight has been growing rapidly though it remains a small share of total air traffic. (Santiago 2010).
The air transports increased development has increased its competition as many companies are venturing into the industry. This means an increase in airlines and airports. This increased development has an effect on the society both socially and economically. It is estimated that, about 15,000 aircrafts service nearly 10,000 airports around the world. This has expanded the transport industry in the air sector. (Santiago 2010).
The air transport industry has many impacts in the society; it generates approximately 32 million jobs worldwide and contributes nearly 8% to world gross domestic product. This is the obvious economic benefit of the aviation industry. It is also involved in transportation of industrial manufactured goods and other agricultural products. It is obvious therefore; air industry is a major contributor in economic growth and development (Santiago 2010).
Each day, scientists are working to produce better aircrafts and its related products. The new discoveries produce improved, better, safer and larger planes used in human and goods transport. The larger planes are a better way of increasing air industry productivity as witnessed in the recent years (Santiago 2010). Scientific discoveries are aimed at bettering the quality of human life. Any technology that compromises the social well-being should therefore be discouraged before it devastates societal progress.
However, the air industry has its negative effects on the environment and social life of human. It has contributed to the world climate change, emission of dangerous greenhouse gases that has left a footprint in the world environment.
Aviation industry has impact on the climate change with increased crowding in the sky with the high level of carbon dioxide emissions. It is reported that, the air industry emits 700 million tons of carbon dioxide, which is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter annually. Global warming, which has greatly affected the world’s environment, through the distraction of the ozone layer, leads to increased regional pollution, surface UV radiation and local pollution. Harmful gases end up harming human beings: UV rays causing skin cancer and results to lose of lives. It would be more realistic if the airline industry takes measures to curb the release of poisonous gases into the atmosphere.
Climate change has three chief effects; rising temperature, rising sea level and increased precipitation. Rising sea level seeps salty water in the water table tainting drinking water for humans. The effects of UV radiation include decreased crop yield, heat related deaths, drought and dry condition, which can cause wildfires (Whitelegg, 2000). Global warming also causes abnormal rain thus resulting to flooding or drought during an expected times. Such conditions leave people counting losses that could otherwise been shunned.
For a long time, the industry has been neglecting the effects that its operation has on the environment and the general well-being of communities. The air industry has a responsibility of ensuring they apply environmental friendly measures to reduce the emissions that cause human diseases by the use of alternative energy that is environmental friendly (Santiago. (2010).
Living near an airport is a great exposure to air pollution. US Citizen Aviation Watch Association, a coalition of concerned municipalities and advocacy groups, cites several studies that’ shows pollution around airports to include; diesel exhausts, carbon monoxide and chemicals leaked to cause cancer, asthma, liver damage, lung diseases, lymphoma, myeloid leukemia and depression (Santiago. (2010).
The emission from the aviation industry is incomparable to the pollutant emission from the roads. A comparison of the number of vehicles and aircrafts is unreasonable. There are many trucks and other heavy vehicles in the USA than there are all aircrafts in the world. This means that the emission by the aviation industry in comparison to the road industry, are relatively small. However, this does not justify why the aviation industry should not take responsibility of the air around them (Santiago. (2010).
Environmental Protective Agency stipulates the rules and regulation that every industry and household should apply in ensuring the environment is kept clean and the aviation industry is no exception. Though the aircraft need, only a small length of strip before takeoff, their emission and noise pollute the air and therefore they are subject to the national legal requirements on pollution. They are governed by the laws associated with all forms of pollution including the use of zero emission aircrafts (Santiago. (2010).
Ethical issues constantly arise in circumstances where several stakeholder’s values and interests, intermix and rules are poorly enforced or ambiguous. Governments and businesses in most cases have the power and authority to make decisions that consequentially affect the well-being of others (Lauren, 2012). Their actions and decisions have the ability to produce tremendous social consequences with respect to welfare, safety and health of employees, consumers and the general community.
Kant’s perception to ethics
This approach to ethics addresses the concept of destructive freedom and the respect for persons. In respect to respect for person’s principle, no business practice should put money on par with people and if any business does so, then the business can be termed to be immoral (Davila, 2007). Human life should be treated with self-worth. Airlines should not jeopardize the safety of passengers and crew so that they can curtail costs of operation as this might result in an enormous loss of human life. The airlines have to ensure that security is of the highest order and any failure to do so should be taken as a serious violation of human rights. Ensuring that there is clean air needed by human beings in order to survive is portraying a great honor to human life. Nothing short of this is expected from the airline industry.
Freeman’s perspective on business ethics
He emphasizes the idea that businesses should be accountable to others and the general community as it is the community that guarantees the business its continuity provides employees as well as market. The interests of all stakeholders whose legitimate interests may be affected by a decision made by an airline should be taken into consideration when making a decision (Lauren, 2012). Airlines should do this at their own expenses, for the benefit of the society as well as the airline industry. The society’s best interests should be at the heart of any management team. Airlines should create sustainable value for society. They should make decisions based on the goal of enhancing communal well-being, and avoid actions that have the prospective to harm society. Ensuring that the air is clean for the benefits of its employees as well as the society is part of this.
Different types of air pollutants reflect distinct ethical challenges. Air pollution from the aviation industry, as discussed above, has many effects on the human health and the environment. It is the mandate of the industry to ensure that they reduce air. Several solutions are available for these actions: change in operating practices, improved and preventive maintenance, improving or replacing the existing control methods and improving energy efficiency through alternative energy sources (Mc Donald, 2008). The industry must weigh the cost of this measures and reflected directly on it financial statement and compare it with the impact of the cost of pollution that it causes to the public. Every industry should be responsible for its actions; this means that the air industry should implement policies that will reduce air pollution to the public.
Ethical consideration has a wide and broader definition than the economist advances. The economic concept of equity is limited to costs and benefits perceived fair in terms of horizontal and vertical criteria (Mc Donald, 2008). However, ethical concept arise from these two contexts; first, with respect to the decisions that reflect altruistic concerns and transcend self-interest and secondly, about a decision which seem to provide special treatment to rights and have moral justification. Two distinct ethical considerations that need advancement are procedural fairness and substantive fairness. Procedural relate to reaching a decision while the substantive relate to desirability of the outcomes of a policy (Mc Donald, 2008).
For a long time, the ultimate intention of the airline industry has been sustainable growth where the environment is not foregone for development so that future generations will be able to continue benefiting from air travel. For future generations to benefit from air transport, it is necessary that the industry minimizes pollution. The aviation industry has started tackling this challenging task. However, sustained and imaginative effort is essential to ensure that the industry exploits the use of its environmental capacity.
What they are doing
The global Airline industry is reconnoitering ways to reduce air pollution caused by carbon emanations from aircrafts, particularly after the Copenhagen Conference held in 2009 in failed. Even though aviation contributes only 2-3% to the total emissions, their bearing is estimated to be 2-4 times more severe majorly because these gases are emitted at very high heights (Santiago, 2010). The airline industry has been advised to agree on a global framework to manage the Aviation industry’s greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. The airlines are really working day in day out to develop strategies aimed at curbing the climate change which is largely as a result of air pollution.
The aviation industry is formulating laws that are consistent with the international laws that guard against air pollution. The industry is formulating and implementing policies that if followed by all stakeholders, the amount of waste emitted into the air will be reduced significantly (Davila & Crowther, 2003). The industry is also trying to closely follow the laws against pollution as described and accepted by the international community.
The airline industry is committing more of its efforts and resources towards alternative fuels that will become a major driver in attainment of the objective of carbon-neutral growth for air travel. Drop-in biofuels have been successfully tested and are already in use on certain viable routes. By 2020, the industry hopes that it will have replaced 6% of current fossil fuels with biofuels (Santiago, 2010). However, the main challenge that the industry is facing in attaining this is how it will ensure that the biofuels are supplied in a consistent and cost-effective manner to all operators in the industry. Nonetheless, they still hope that alternative solution to the problem of fossil fuels will be found.
What they should do
The airline industry should truncate the use of auxiliary power units on the ground. Though this may not fully solve the problem of air pollution, it will reduce the pollution with a greater magnitude. The use of power units on the ground should only be allowed in situations where such acts are not avoidable (Santiago, 2010). These should clearly be communicated to the staff as they can contribute to either a reduction or increase in air pollution. Auxiliary power units on the ground significantly contribute to air pollution and airlines should consider restricting it.
The airline industry should also conserve fuel not only by decreasing weight and taxing times but also by controlling air traffic delays. The more an aircraft stays on air the more smoke is emitted to the atmosphere. This translates to more pollution. The airline industry should also consider banning crafts whose engine power is not satisfactory as these crafts stay on air for long and the combustion in the engine produces heavy air pollutants. The toxicities from such engines also contribute to more pollution as compared to modern engines which are faster and fuel efficient.
Organic and inorganic wastes should be recycled effectively. These wastes if released to the environment will have a devastating effect (Santiago, 2010). It is therefore logical that the airline industry comes up with better methods of handling these wastes to avert the repercussions that these wastes would have if emitted to the environment. Airlines should also offer motivation programs to the flight crew that cuts fuel burning. This will not only encourage the employee employees to continuously reduce emission of poisonous gases into the atmosphere but will also save money for the airline as less fuel will be burnt. Employees as well as the general society have the right to fresh air to breath and denial of this right is a violation of human rights (Mc Donald, 2008). The violation will make life very unbearable, far from what life is expected to be. Airline companies should therefore contribute to the happiness of its staff and the society in general.
As part of a growing suite of air pollution-control measures, airlines should invest in the installation of different underground power systems that will reduce aircrafts’ dependency on auxiliary power units on the ramp (Davila & Crowther, 2003). The system will provide hatches under each aircraft engine start-up stand for access to a consolidated power and heating or cooling system thus greatly reducing the number of aircrafts exhaust emissions as well as reducing the number of hours of operation. Though costly, the industry should consider coming up with and implementing the system as its benefits are bound to be great.
The aviation industry should consider the ethical principle of solidarity and participation. Solidarity invites the industry to think of its relation with the global community. In it participation and investment in air transport, it should consider the effects its actions and emissions have in the larger community. Therefore, the industry is expected to act in an ethical manner that reflects concern to the other members of the community. Participation takes the solidarity principle into action (Santiago, 2010). This will call for the industry to take both short term and long-term measures in protecting the environment.
Aviation policies should be developed in a way that is stable with the approach used for other transport sectors. Rather than treating aviation as a different issue, it should be fully bedded into an integrated transport policy. Governments should also seek reducing air pollution that arises from aviation by introducing improved technology, offer financial assistance when projects aimed at reducing air pollution are being designed and implemented and also better operational practice and also provide incentives to airlines that successfully reduces air pollution (Santiago, 2010).
In the airports, there are many diesel engines that are used for handling and loading. These engines should be replaced with electrical engines or new diesel engines to significantly reduce the emission of fine particles which are the major air pollutants (Lauren, 2012). Furthermore, instead of using a diesel ground power unit, electricity to the aircrafts should be delivered directly from the central power supply.
In conclusion, the aviation industry largely contributes to air pollution which results to various side effects to the society. It is the responsibility of the industry to ensure that the society’s right to clean air is adhered to. Though the industry has endeavored a lot to reduce air pollution, it can still plummet the pollution further if it puts in place the necessary systems and policies. This will be beneficial to the industry as well as the entire society.
Davila, G. A. M., & Crowther, D. (2007). Ethics, psyche and social responsibility. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Lauren, M. (2012).The Cost of Safety: Ethics and the Airline Industry | business government society 2. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2013, from http://bizgovsoc2.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/the-cost-of-safety-ethics-and-the-airline-industry/
Mc Donald, C. (2008): Ethical issues in aviation, Associate press.
Santiago. (2010). Aviation Industry - Mitigating Climate Change Impacts through Technology and Policy. Journal of Technology Management & Innovation, 5(2).
Whitelegg, J. (2000). Aviation : the Social, Economic and Environmental Impact of Flying. (Ashden Trust.) Ashden Trust.