Interdisciplinary Thesis Lab: Circular Aviation

LDE Centre for Sustainability and NLR are joining forces to make the aviation industry more sustainable. From February to July 2022, we are running the first Interdisciplinary Thesis Lab on ‘Circular Aviation’. We are working with 9 enthusiastic LDE master students with a background in: Aerospace engineering, Governance of Sustainability, Engineering and policy analysis, Industrial Ecology, Ethics, and Industrial Design Engineering. The findings will be made available in practical solutions for the aviation sector. 

Challenge: "What can the circular economy mean for sustainable aviation?" 

The aviation sector has made important contributions to society and the world economy over the past century. However, as air traffic has grown, so has its environmental impact. The aviation sector is one of the fastest-growing sources of the greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change.  

Looking to the future, a life-cycle approach needs to be taken to reduce the overall aviation environmental footprint. This means considering materials, production and manufacturing (in addition to emissions during operations), while maintaining airworthiness and safety and while keeping an eye on convenience. The concept of circular economy promises opportunities for sustainable aviation: reusing and recycling End-of-life (EoL) aircraft components and materials, reducing and valorising waste during flights and in ground infrastructures (food, packaging, municipal solid waste, construction and demolition debris), reducing energy, water and raw material consumption. 

In this lab, we ask the question: What can the circular economy mean for sustainable aviation? We collected challenges the aviation sector faces when it comes to sustainability. This lab gives you the opportunity to explore these challenges with the guidance of experts in the field. The aim is to recommend solutions for these stakeholders, contributing directly to a more sustainable aviation.  


About NLR 

Ligeia Paletti. Case Holder Aviation Lab.

NLR is the connecting link between science, industry and government for the aviation sector. It aims to make aerospace more sustainable, safer, more efficient and more effective. The challenges in aviation are always greater than the possibilities of today.

A Circular Aviation is a new aviation system and, as such, to exist it needs a multidisciplinary approach within aviation, including all aviation stakeholders, and beyond aviation.

Only the continuous connection of an in-depth understanding of customer needs with leading knowledge and research facilities enables rapid innovation. NLR is directly involved in the development of more fuel-efficient engines, lighter aircraft, quieter landing procedures, the use of biofuels and hybrid and electric flying.

Netherlands Aerospace Agency

Subtopics for master theses 

The lab is structured around a main question: To what extent is circularity a solution towards net zero-emission aviation? The following sub questions form the basis for individual thesis research projects:

1    1b    2

3    4    5

6    7    8


All Assignments Circular Aviation Lab 2022 

Lab program

The Circular Aviation Lab program runs from the beginning of February until the beginning of July 2022. It is a biweekly program were students from a lab come together to follow in-depth lectures and workshops related to their sustainability challenge. During these sessions, the students discover and discuss the interdisciplinary aspect of this challenge. At the end of the program, an interdisciplinary result to the sustainability challenge will be formulated by the students during a “pressure cooker”.

Curious to know more about the program of the Circular Aviation Lab 2022?

program CA


Meet the Circular Aviation 2022 Team here:

team CA