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      Going green in aviation

      Aviators, businessmen, and those interested in expanding into aviation traveled to Marquette Wednesday to attend the Upper Michigan Green Aviation Coalition's (UMGAC) Second Annual Conference, which covered some of the recent advances in green aviation and introduced some ongoing research.

      There were around 60 registrants this year at the Green Aviation Conference at Up Front & Company in Marquette. The Green Aviation Coalition invited several speakers from across the U.S. and Canada to speak on some of the latest advances in green aviation. The keynote speaker, Kevin Billings, is from Lockheed Martin, a large company in the forefront of research in green aviation.

      "Fuel efficiency is a big piece of the puzzle. Anything we can do to reduce the weight on an aircraft is going to save fuel," said Billings, Director of Logistics Concepts for Lockheed Martin Corporate Logistics and Sustainment.

      Billings also says that environmentally friendly practices go beyond the need to refill the gas tank.

      "We're also looking for more efficient ways not to use as much stuff, in terms of packaging, shipping, reusing shipping containers. Those are all key pieces of what we're driving for," Billings said.

      But there's a greater reason behind the conference than just introducing new advances in green aviation.

      "The main purpose today really is all about networking and trying to elevate the small businesses, here in the Upper Peninsula, involved in aerospace aviation and put them on a national platform with the major OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers)," said Vikki Kulju, spokesperson for UMGAC.

      Most of the attendees are from Michigan and Wisconsin, and by interacting with each other and the larger companies, like Lockheed Martin, they break down barriers between business rivals and work together to promote growth.

      "What you see happening on a U.P.-wide basis...they're starting to collaborate and grow in a way that's synergistic and not competitive," Kulju said.

      Each conference has been growing in numbers and has been very successful. The Green Aviation Coalition hopes to see even more attendees at next year's conference.