UCL Energy Institute

Dr Lynnette Dray

Dr Lynnette Dray

Principal Research Fellow

Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Dec 2014

Research summary

The aviation sector is notoriously one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonise. As targets for other sectors become more ambitious, the gap between aviation sector aspirations and national or global net-zero emissions goals is becoming wider. Global aviation is a complex system in which multiple stakeholders seek to optimise their own benefits. Trying to address its climate impact is fraught with difficult questions: How should responsibility be assigned for international emissions? What balance should be sought between positive economic impacts and negative externalities? How can non-CO2 climate impacts, local-area emissions and noise be accounted for? Can substantial change be achieved in an industry that is risk-averse and often loss-making at current cost levels?

It is vital in this environment to have access to effective, scientifically rigorous, open and transparent tools to help policymakers assess system responses to changes, for example to costs, capacity, technology or policy. This is where my work is focussed. I am interested in exploring ways to effectively simulate the behaviour of passengers, airlines, airports and other stakeholders in response to policy; in finding robust methodologies to evaluate both the positive and negative impacts of transportation systems; and in building and integrating open-source transport modelling capabilities, in collaboration with colleagues in the Air Transportations Systems Lab and elsewhere. This work also involves engaging with policymakers and international institutions to open dialogues about how these tools can be used and developed further, and using these modelling capabilities to address and publish on current and future aviation system issues. 

Currently my work is centred around two main modelling capabilities: the open-source AIM2015 model, which has been used by multiple national and international bodies to assess aviation-related policy impact to 2050 and beyond, and the closely-related Airline Behaviour Model, which simulates more closely issues arising from the profit-maximising behaviour of airlines in a given year. My recent work has included simulating carbon trading policy, uncertainty in future aviation emissions, electric aircraft networks and adoption, carbon leakage, biofuel uptake, the impact of airport capacity limits on cost pass-through and airline profits, and the achievability of net zero in the aviation sector. 

Teaching summary

My role at UCL is primarily research-based. However I do supervise student projects (for example, via the EPEE, ESDA and SEBE MSc courses). 


University of Cambridge
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2003
University of Cambridge
Other higher degree, Master of Natural Science | 1999
University of Cambridge
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) | 1999


I joined UCL in late 2014, initially to work on shipping models, and subsequently to develop aviation modelling capabilities via the ACCLAIM project with Prof. Andreas Schäfer. Since then I have also been involved with the TOZCA project on working towards net zero in aviation; the NAPKIN project on exploring the potential for using hydrogen aircraft in the UK domestic aviation system; the SAECA project on electric aircraft; the HARMONY project on integrated transport modelling for European cities; and the NAVIGATE project, for which I am developing a rapid aviation metamodel. 

Before I came to UCL I was a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge. I was institutional lead for the MetaCDM and Team_play projects, which looked at how to mitigate the impacts of disruptive events at airports, and at comparing and linking different aviation modelling facilities, respectively. I was also lead modeller on the TOSCA and AIM projects, which developed simulation capabilities for aviation and ground transportation emissions under different policy futures.  

My PhD is in Astrophysical Numerical Modelling from the University of Cambridge.