Environmental and social responsibility in business aviation


If not us, who? And if not now, when? Environmental and social responsibility in business aviation

By Patrick Müry, Dispatcher and Charter Sales Executive at Cat Aviation AG Zurich

It was late September last year on one of my days off that I received a message from Cat Aviation CEO and President, Helene Niedhart, requesting an urgent response. She mentioned that the Swiss Business Aviation Association was given the option to send two representatives to The Hague on a forum for young people to discuss the world’s most pressing issues. I was told that in total 10 representatives from the European Business Aviation Association would be going, and she thought it would be a great opportunity for me, but she needed to know my answer a.s.a.p.

When you receive such a message from your company’s CEO, you don’t really have to think very long about the answer! And so a few weeks later in October I was on a plane to the Netherlands.

I don’t think any of the 10 representatives, or even the EBAA for that matter, knew exactly what to expect from the One Young World Forum in The Hague. We knew it was a “World Economic Forum-like” summit for young people from all around the world, exchanging experiences and concerns surrounding some of the world’s most prevalent issues such as climate change, hunger, poverty and sexual harassment to name a few… But we had no clue what we as representatives of the European business aviation industry were supposed to take away from it.

What happened over the next four days was nothing short of life-changing

Hearing and seeing all the amazing speakers, young and old, share their stories of struggle, hard work and success inspired me not only personally, but professionally. I learned that we as business aviation are not only capable of making a change, but it is our responsibility!

Of course, it is impossible to address all of the issues that were discussed during those four days, but at the end of our EBAA-led workshop on the last day of the forum, we ten delegates, under the excellent supervision and guidance of EBAA representative Taunya Renson-Martin, came up with a solution to make our industry more socially and environmentally sustainable.

At the end of the day, we all have a role to play in making this a better world for us to live in and secure the future of the next generations.

We spent the next six months between November and May developing a new three-tiered sustainability label for the global business aviation industry, until we were ready to give it a name and share the idea on stage in front of an international audience of our business aviation peers. We introduced S.T.A.R.S. (Standards and Training for Aviation Responsibility and Sustainability) at Europe’s biggest business aviation conference, EBACE on May 21st, and we knew from the reactions that we were on to something big!

The project has received the green light from the EBAA and the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), and our group of amazingly talented and motivated young business aviation professionals are working on the next steps to get S.T.A.R.S. up and running.

I am extremely proud and thankful to be a part of this project…

…but my work doesn’t stop there

I couldn’t possibly participate in such an important project and not try to get the company I work for on board. Thankfully, Cat Aviation has an incredibly motivated and open group of executives who acknowledge the need for a more socially and environmentally sustainable industry.

I have taken the first steps in speaking with the executive team and am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to pitch a proposal for our company’s first sustainability team.

As sustainability officer, I would lead a team in discussing our opportunities and implementing important changes to our operations so that we meet and exceed industry standards laid out by S.T.A.R.S. before the standards are even set, making us a role model and example for the rest of the industry to follow suit. It’s an ambitious plan and no doubt a lot of work, but I am motivated and know that I have colleagues who are ready to support me in this critical endeavour.

At the end of the day we all have a role to play in making this a better world for us to live in and secure the future of the next generations. It can start with one person or group, one idea, small or big, but it has to start somewhere. If not us, who? And if not now, when?