A new company is offering general aviation operators a way to atone for the environmental sins they commit every time they start their engines. In today's podcast interview with AVweb's Russ Niles, Jeff Witward, of Carbon Neutral Planes, says his company's programs will add less than a dollar an hour to the operating cost of most light planes while they help develop clean energy or contribute to projects that reduce carbon emissions. "I'm concerned about the public image of aviation," Witward said. He said there are already enough knocks against aviation and he wanted to provide a way to mitigate criticism about its environmental impact.
According to Witward, it costs about four to five cents per gallon of aviation fuel to offset the impact it has on the environment. Earth-conscious pilots join his group for an annual membership fee of $100 for individuals and $1,200 for corporate aircraft. The organization then analyzes the aircraft's previous year of operation and determines how much fuel it has burned. The carbon offset fee is assessed and the money invested in various types of projects that either reduce existing levels of pollution or develop clean energy sources, like wind power, which can't compete with dirtier forms of energy production. Participants get a decal they can put on their aircraft declaring it to be carbon neutral.