As the fate of the aviation industry is inextricably tied to the price of oil, airlines spend a lot of time, energy and money trying to find a way to reduce their use of fuel. "Fuel economy and carbon emissions are exactly the same thing," said Alan Epstein, vice president for technology and the environment at Pratt & Whitney. "If you want to reduce carbon emissions, you reduce the fuel consumption." In the United States, commercial aviation accounts for 2% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Air Transport Association.

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