Kate's Column - December

  • 21st Dec 2023

Hello and welcome to my first sustainability column!

Every month I will be talking about different aspects of sustainability within the events and aviation industries.

My name is Kate McKinley, I am People and Sustainability Director at the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust Enterprises. For the last four years I have been responsible for leading the Company and event’s sustainability efforts. About two years ago we started to apply ISO20121 – Sustainable Event Management System – to help us make meaningful change to our operations.   

At Douglas Bader House the whole team are engaged in ways to find more sustainable ways of planning and delivering the show.  This starts with measuring our impacts so that the steps we take tackle the key areas and lead to lasting improvements. We also want to celebrate the positive impact we have in promoting the RAF, staging a fantastic inspiring family day out and delivering STEM opportunities through our parent charity, the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.

In 2022 we switched our generators to operate on Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil, in 2023 we had fewer generators and introduced some hybrid systems to better deliver the power we needed.  We eliminated single use plastics from our volunteer and staff catering offer in 2022, ensuring that all our packaging was compostable, working with our waste contractor MJ Church to send any food waste to anaerobic digestion.  This year we focussed on increasing our reuse and recycle rates, while continuing to divert all our waste from landfill.

On the showground we are encouraging all our sponsors and exhibitors to showcase the technology they are developing to make aviation more sustainable.  This includes sustainable aircraft and interactive exhibits and activities in the Techno Zone and the RAF’s Astra exhibit.  Every decision we make has sustainability at its heart and we are looking forward to sharing our work with our visitors over the coming years.

Some of you may have seen before this year’s show we announced we have joined forces with a company called Hybrid Air Vehicles who are based in Bedfordshire and will soon start production of their sustainable Airlander 10 aircraft. This is a five-year partnership, with the shared aspiration that the Airlander will feature at the 2027 Royal International Air Tattoo, which is incredibly exciting!

Recently some of our team members went to visit Hybrid Air Vehicles at their Head Quarters and we are looking forward to sharing some of the video footage and interviews we captured while we were there, as we look to dig deeper into the companies behind the surge in sustainability.

If you have read this column, you have successfully navigated to the sustainability section on our website, where we will be providing regular updates from all aspects of the industry from technology innovations to fuelling.  We know we have a long way to go, and we thank you for your continued support on our journey.   

With the festive break just around the corner, I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year, we are looking forward to sharing more with you in 2024.