The Federal Aviation Administration announced more than $100 million in grants on Friday to help make flying more environmentally sustainable and less noisy, the first such awards since 2015 under a decade-old program.
The grants, which are part of the Biden administration’s efforts to combat climate change, will go to some of the world’s largest aviation companies, including Boeing, Pratt & Whitney, Honeywell Aerospace and GE Aviation. The money is designated for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or noise pollution. Recipients must invest at least as much of their money as they receive from the government.
“Across the country, communities have been devastated by the effects of climate change — but, if we act now, we can ensure that aviation plays a central role in the solution,” the transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, said in a statement.
The nation’s largest airlines this year pledged to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050, but it is not clear how they will achieve that goal. Electric airplanes that can carry a few hundred people do not exist and may not be feasible for many years or decades. Some companies, like Boeing, have said replacing or supplementing oil-based jet fuel with alternatives, sometimes made from waste, could help reduce emissions. Airbus is working on developing a hydrogen-powered plane. It’s not clear how viable either approach will be.
President Biden has taken a series of actions aimed at slashing carbon emissions, including setting goals of eliminating emissions from the power sector by 2035 and having as many as half of new cars sold be electric by 2030. On Thursday, his administration set a target for replacing all jet fuel with sustainable alternatives by 2050.
“We enthusiastically support the approach laid out for our industry by the Biden administration,” the chief executive of American Airlines, Doug Parker, said in a statement.
The new grants are the third round of funding under the Continuous Lower Energy, Emissions and Noise program, a public-private partnership that began in 2010. No grants were issued under former President Donald Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax.”
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The F.A.A. has already spent $225 million on such grants, including on projects to improve engine systems, aircraft wings, flight path software and alternative jet fuels. The investments have helped develop technology that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions equal to removing about three million cars from the road by 2050, according to the agency.
GE Aviation said it and the F.A.A. would together invest $55 million over the next five years to explore engine improvements, electrification, noise reduction and alternative fuels. Those efforts include exploring new engine fan designs, improved heat management and new combustors that could lower the amount of nitrogen oxides released by the company’s engines.
“It just allows us to move faster,” said Arjan Hegeman, general manager of advanced technologies for the company. “We only have so many people and so much of a budget, and any type of participation and partnership that can help us do more and bring some of these important technologies earlier to maturation and therefore earlier to the market is just a fantastic opportunity.”
Mr. Hegeman said some of the technologies being developed now could appear in finished products by the end of the decade or soon after.
The maintenance, repair and overhaul division of Delta Air Lines and other companies plan to use the grant money to develop better coatings for engine fan blades to reduce fuel use and extend the life of engines.
“Like our quest for safer skies, making flying sustainable requires us to constantly look for ways to improve,” the F.A.A. administrator, Steve Dickson, a former Delta pilot, said in a statement.
Separately, United Airlines and Honeywell on Thursday announced an investment in Alder Fuels, a producer of alternative jet fuels. United said it would buy 1.5 billion gallons of the fuel.