New research commissioned by the UK’s air traffic services provider NATS has revealed that cutting carbon emissions from aircraft should be the top priority for the aviation industry.

As part of the research, dubbed the Aviation Index, Ipsos MORI polled nearly 1,000 participants.

More than half (52%) of respondents said that cutting emissions from flying should be the main objective of any reworking of the UK’s airspace.

Nearly 36% of them said that improving flight paths is the next highest priority, followed by reducing noise (32%) and flight times (31%).

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The research further revealed that the existing UK’s network of air routes and flight paths are unable to handle the growing aviation demands, as they were originally designed in the 1960s.

“These results show us that people also want to see a reduction in the environmental impact of aviation.”

Additionally, 49% respondents have agreed to support changes to flight paths, against just 6% who would oppose any changes, with almost six in ten saying that the process should be given the same priority as the launch of high-speed broadband.

NATS environment and community affairs head Ian Jopson NATS said: “We know that people still want to fly and that demand is growing, but these results show us that people also want to see a reduction in the environmental impact of aviation. Modernising how our airspace is structured and managed is the main way for us to do that.

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“These findings are totally in line with the guiding principles around airspace change, with minimising noise for local communities the top priority at lower levels and reducing carbon emissions at higher altitudes.”

The report also sheds light on people’s attitudes towards flying, from the factors they consider while selecting an airline and attitudes to flight safety, in addition to their concerns about the growing use of drones.