Eco-performance at Airbus
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Building momentum

Airbus has played a key role in the international air transport industry’s evolution. Major achievements to date – such as improving manufacturing techniques, developing global cooperation and reducing aviation’s environmental impact – result from Airbus’ ability to understand ever-changing market needs and passenger expectations, and answer them with solutions that have become world standards.

Over the last 50 years, the aviation industry has cut fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by more than 80 per cent, NOx emissions by 90 per cent and noise by 75 per cent. During these same four decades, innovation has been a key driver in Airbus’ own success as a world-leading manufacturer of commercial aircraft.

The path forward

Airbus is committed to the ATAG (Air Transport Action Group) industry targets to reduce CO2 and achieve carbon neutral growth for the aviation industry from 2020. The industry is on-track to meet its short-term targets of a 1.5-per cent reduction in fuel burn, and Airbus is contributing to this success through its latest-generation aircraft and continuous improvements in the performance of the whole of the Airbus fleet around the world.

The industry roadmap for the reduction of CO2 emissions is based on a four-pillar strategy: technology innovation and sustainable fuels; operational improvements and air traffic management; infrastructure efficiencies and air traffic management; and smart economic measures. Airbus is contributing to this roadmap not only through the state-of-the-art technologies and environmental performance of its aircraft, but though on-going work in air traffic management, sustainable fuels and ground operations.

In addition, Airbus is committed to the European Union’s Flightpath 2050 technology targets for significant reductions in emissions.

Focus on… A320neo

The Airbus A320neo – which went airborne for the first time on 25 September 2014 – is clearly recognizable with its “neo” livery that highlights the jetliner family’s unbeatable fuel efficiency.

The A320neo (new engine option) is the latest of many product upgrades as Airbus continues to invest around 300 million euros a year in innovation for the A320 Family to maintain its position as the most advanced and fuel-efficient single-aisle aircraft family.

The A320neo offers a 15 per cent fuel burn saving compared to current single-aisle aircraft operations, with 12.5 per cent provided by its new engine options (CFM International’s LEAP-1A and the PW1100G PurePower from Pratt & Whitney). In addition, Sharklet wingtip devices now in operation are demonstrating up to 4 per cent reductions in fuel burn. The A320neo is set to provide a 20 per cent reduction in fuel burn and CO² emissions by 2020.

Improving air traffic management

Airbus is dedicated to the development and support of modern, air traffic management (ATM) systems globally. The goal is to achieve the highest operational efficiencies with more direct routings, resulting in approximately 10 per cent less aircraft fuel consumption, along with significant reductions in CO² and noise emissions. 

Airbus is interacting with – and helping to develop – ATM programmes such as “Single European Sky ATM Research” (SESAR) in Europe, and NextGen in the United States. A major Airbus ProSky goal is to accelerate the implementation of both systems and link them together to capitalise on technological and operational synergies.

Focus on… A350 XWB

The Airbus A350-900 is the cornerstone member of Airbus’ all-new A350 XWB Family, which is tailored to meet airlines’ market requirements in medium-to-long haul operation.

Over 70 per cent of the A350 XWB’s weight-efficient airframe is made from advanced materials, combining 53 per cent of composite structures with titanium and advanced aluminum alloys.

The A350 XWB is Airbus’ all-new family of widebody aircraft that is shaping the future of medium- to long-haul airline operations. Having entered commercial service in January 2015, this new-generation jetliner brings together the very latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies to provide a 25 per cent step-change in fuel efficiency compared to its current long-range competitor. 

Compared to current CAEP6 (Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection) regulations, the A350 XWB displays comfortable margins: 99 per cent below the hydrocarbons limit, 86 per cent below carbon monoxide (CO) limit, 60 per cent below the smoke limit, and 35 per cent below the  mono-nitrogen oxide   (NOx) limit. 

Even in context of the proposed and more stringent CAEP8 constraints applied from 2013, the A350 XWB compliance margins remain high. A350 XWB is also a quiet neighbour. It is up to 21dB below the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Chapter 4 limit.

Reducing noise

Recognition for Airbus
The UK’s national noise reduction charity, the Noise Abatement Society, presented Airbus’ A380 a top award at their annual award ceremony in 2012

Historically, noise has been a major environmental issue for people living close to airports, and it remains high on the agenda of public concern – with the focus mainly on aircraft operations.

Airbus works closely with partners across the industry to reduce the impact of noise of its aircraft in operations. Noise standards for aircraft are set by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) and all Airbus aircraft are well within the current limits set.

ICAO has also developed a “Balanced Approach to Airport Noise Management” using the following aspects: reduction of noise at source; operational procedures; land use planning and operational restrictions.

Focus on… A380

The Airbus A380 – which turned heads during its Farnborough International Airshow appearance in 2014 – is the world’s largest and most efficient jetliner.

The Airbus A380 – which has been in commercial service since 2007 – is an essential part of the solution to sustainable growth, doing more with less: alleviating traffic congestion at busy airports by transporting more passengers with fewer flights, more efficiently and at much lower cost. 

The A380 was the first commercial aircraft to incorporate as much as 25 per cent composites, saving up to 1.5 tonnes of weight resulting in a very low fuel burn. The double-deck jetliner has a fuel burn of less than 3 litres per passenger per 100 kilometres. In-service experience has shown a fuel consumption of 40 per cent less than its nearest competitor.

Airbus is working hand-in-hand with engine manufacturers on low-noise nacelle designs, acoustic treatment and low engine noise technologies. One such innovation is the zero-splice inlet technology for engine nacelles, which was pursued to reduce fan noise. It contributes to the A380’s remarkably quiet flight, which delivers unprecedented certified noise levels with a 17-EPNdB cumulative margin to the most stringent ICAO Chapter 4 standard, and satisfies the noise requirements of international airports – including the strict requirements of London airports – QC/2 for departures and QC/0.5 for arrivals.