This week's Paris Air show has seen Rolls-Royce step up its push to be greener by buying German industrial giant Siemens's electric and hybrid-electric “eAircraft” division, in a deal believed to be worth about €50m (£45m).
Chief executive Warren East told the Today programme: "There has to be a future in aerospace beyond setting fire to hydrocarbons."
He denied that the air industry had been slow to tackle carbon emissions and climate change, saying refinements of existing technology had made planes less polluting. "Actually, getting on an aeroplane compared with, say, 20 years ago is probably in order of 25% more efficient."
Mr East refused to be drawn on the continuing political uncertainty surrounding Brexit, saying Rolls-Royce was "ready for whatever outcome materialises".
"We have to leave the politics to the politicians," he added.