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Biodiesel helps Signature Aviation land top environmental certification for Vail Valley Jet Center

Photo: Signature Flight Support

Signature Aviation, the world’s largest network of fixed-base operators (FBOs), has received the business and general aviation industry’s highest environmental certification for sustainable operations for its Vail Valley Jet Center branded location near Vail, Colorado, the company announced Aug. 31. The sustainability efforts, encompassing 22 different criteria, will have the impact of removing 678 metric tons of CO2 annually from Colorado skies. The Vail facility has outpaced thousands of private aviation service providers globally to become the first to achieve this high honor.

FBOs provide private aircraft and travelers with critical infrastructure and services, including aircraft fueling, handling, hangar storage and maintenance.

The National Air Transportation Association Sustainability Standard for Business Aviation is designed to monitor and reduce FBO greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions, promote the use of environmentally friendly energy sources, reduce waste, and encourage sustainable operations. Vail Valley Jet Center’s first accreditation by the Vail-based Walking Mountains Science Center as an “actively green business” in 2019 was followed by NATA Tier I and ultimately Tier III self-certified standards.

NATA follows Federal Aviation Administration guidance on environmental citizenship, which defines sustainable airports as those that 1) reduce environmental impacts; 2) help maintain high and stable levels of economic growth; and 3) assist in making social progress by achieving organizational goals in ways that are compatible with a local community’s needs and values.

In practical terms, Signature’s Vail location first started with measuring its carbon impact, then identified ways to reduce emissions, increase efficiency, and finally employ offsets as a bridge to carbon neutrality. Carbon reduction efforts have included:

  • Electrification of more than 50 percent of the location’s ground-service vehicle fleet

  • Procurement of six new fuel trucks powered by biodiesel for $1.9 million, generating 40 percent less emissions

  • Purchase of some of the industry’s first electric-powered fuel trucks, with expected delivery in late fall 2022

  • Installation of HVAC interlocks on 11 hangars, pausing climate controls when the doors are open

  • Replacement of 584 traditional lighting elements with LED bulbs

  • Acquisition of more than 2,400 gallons of biodiesel for consumption by its 19 fuel trucks

  • Addition of two electric vehicle charging stations for public use

“This certification is bold step towards becoming a truly sustainable business, which includes our organization’s goals for carbon neutrality,” said Paul Gordon, president and general manager of Signature Aviation’s Vail Valley Jet Center. “Through our partnership with NATA and the Eagle County Regional Airport, we’ve been able to realize a meaningful impact right here in the Colorado Rockies.”

In 2020, Signature Aviation established an objective of net-zero scope 1 and scope 2 emissions by 2050, including a 29 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2025 and a 50 percent reduction by 2030.

Furthermore, Signature’s Vail location began refueling aircraft with sustainable aviation fuel sourced from renewable feedstock in spring 2022, empowering customers to reduce the emissions generated by their own aircraft.


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