Eco-partnerships | Airbus, Commercial Aircraft
Eco-partnerships at Airbus
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A team effort

Airbus is taking a leading role in improving air transport’s environmental performance, but a task so important cannot be done in isolation. 

It is for this reason the company prioritises working with key industry stakeholders – including the airlines, government agencies, air traffic management (ATM) organisations and engine manufacturers – in order to develop and implement the best, and most efficient, solutions worldwide. 

Creating the Perfect Flight

The Airbus A319 is “topped off” ahead of North America’s first “Perfect Flight,” during which the Air Canada aircraft traveled from Toronto to Mexico City.

Core elements of the Perfect Flight

  • Airbus’ modern, fuel-efficient jetliners
  • Sustainable aviation fuels
  • Streamlined ATM procedures
  • Optimised operations

Airbus has successfully teamed up with airline operators to showcase environmental benefits of the Perfect Flight, which combines several company-backed initiatives and procedures for the most eco-efficient air travel possible today. 

Airbus and Air France completed the world’s first Perfect Flight in October 2011, putting into practice multiple elements of the Airbus environmental roadmap. This Toulouse-Paris voyage was performed by an Airbus A321, and as a result, the aircraft emitted half the CO² of a regular flight. 

The first North American Perfect Flight took place during June 2012 in a joint effort between Airbus and Air Canada. This activity utilised an A319 flying from Toronto to Mexico City, with the aircraft powered by a 50-per cent sustainable aviation fuel blend made with used cooking oil. Further enhancing this flight’s eco-efficiency were streamlined ATM procedures, use of Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) into the destination area, single-engine taxiing on the ground and external cleaning for improved aerodynamics. 

In August 2013, Airbus and Air Canada received aeronautical publication Air Transport World’s Eco-partnership Award in honour of their successful Perfect Flight collaboration.

Advancing sustainable aviation

Airbus has demonstrated that CO2 emissions can be reduced by more than 40 per cent in a “Perfect Flight,” as compared to a similar regular flight

Further highlighting Airbus’ emphasis on eco-partnerships is its Sustainable Aviation Engagement Programme, which brings together company-wide expertise in order to offer a consolidated view of the products and services that Airbus can provide toward sustainable aviation.  

This programme builds upon the ATAG four-pillar strategy as part of the industry’s roadmap to reducing CO2 emissions from aviation, and is a framework for collaboration with airline customers to promote and seek opportunities regarding the environmental performance of Airbus products and services. 

The Sustainable Aviation Engagement Programme is looking at how the environmental performance of Airbus’ latest-generation aircraft can be optimised to reduce fuel burn and noise in aircraft operations. Taking the best practices from the Perfect Flights, it includes the use of sustainable fuels, optimised air traffic management and ground operations.

Key collaborations

The Airbus A380 – which was used for the partnership between Airbus, British Airways, Heathrow Airport and NATS to study noise reduction procedures – is the quietest aircraft of its size.

Airbus in 2014 launched an industry initiative in partnership with British Airways (BA), Heathrow Airport (LHR) and NATS (the main air navigation service provider in the United Kingdom) to study and develop operational procedures to reduce the number of people affected by noise around London’s Heathrow.  

This project utilises the capabilities of the A380, the quietest aircraft of its size, and looks at how the aircraft manufacturer, airline, airport and air navigation services provider can further reduce the noise impact of flight operations for local communities.

Also in 2014, Airbus celebrated the 20th anniversary of the first MOZAIC (Measurement of Ozone by Airbus in-service Aircraft) flight together with partners, users and the worldwide scientific community – highlighting the company’s strong commitment to advancing scientific knowledge on climate research. The first data in this project was obtained on an Air France A340 flight from Caracas to Bogota in August 1994.

Additional eco-partnerships with Airbus participation are highlighted below. This list puts the spotlight on key projects, and is not comprehensive.  

ATM Partnerships
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), reducing flight time by even one minute globally would save 4.8 million tonnes of CO2 a year.

Improving air traffic management has the potential to greatly reduce the climate impacts of aviation. This can be simply by optimizing flightpaths to reduce the amount of fuel burned on a particular route or to improve the noise impacts of operations around airports.

Airbus ProSky’s intelligent technology increases operational efficiency with more direct routes, enhanced surface management systems, supply solutions for sustainable fuels and project specific environmental impact analysis and monitoring.

European Advanced Biofuels Flightpath
As a partnership between Airbus, the European Commission, leading European airlines and key European sustainable aviation fuel produces, this initiative is committed to supporting and promoting the production, storage and distribution of sustainably produced drop-in sustainable aviation fuels for aviation use

ITAKA partnership
Funded by the European Union, a collaborative project aiming to produce sustainable aviation fuel and to test its use in existing systems and normal flight operations in Europe

SESAR and NextGen
Separate programmes with the goal to modernise air traffic management in Europe and the U.S., respectively 

Resulting from a close collaboration between SESAR members, i4D is the first step in developing one of the essential pillars for SESAR: conciliating the increasing traffic density with the efficiency of flights

Ground operations
Exploring the electric eTaxi system for A320 Family aircraft, Airbus collaborates with EGTS International – a joint venture of Honeywell Aerospace and Safran