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Innovation

Improving environmental performance

Innovative research & technology to improve aircraft environmental performance
More than 90 per cent of Airbus’ research and technology investments are to make aircraft more eco-efficient.

An innovator in aircraft design, Airbus uses this same pioneering spirit to increase its overall environmental performance and develop new technologies aimed at reducing the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of its airliners. 

More than 90 per cent of Airbus’ research and technology initiatives are for the benefit of the environment. These investments go mainly to the development of new aircraft technologies, to the implementation of sustainable aviation fuel value chains and to the development of a modern air traffic management system – which focuses on combining aircraft traffic growth while reducing the overall environmental impact. 

Airbus is proud of its track record for innovation, which includes the introduction of fly-by-wire technology into civil airliners, as well as the reduction of aircraft weight and subsequent fuel consumption through the development of composite aerostructures and the use of advanced materials and aerodynamics.

“Clean Sky” and SESAR

To meet its eco-efficiency goals, Airbus is committed to investing in continual improvements for its in-service jetliners, and applies cutting-edge technologies to enhance new aircraft – such as the A350 XWB, which is shaping the future of operational efficiency for the air transport industry. 

This direction is underscored by Airbus’ leading role in the European Union’s "Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative,” which aims to develop new environmentally-friendly technologies that also reinforce the competitiveness of Europe’s aeronautics sector. In cooperation with other major European aerospace companies, Airbus will radically improve air transport’s environmental impact through technologies and solutions that will result in the reduction of fuel consumption, emissions and noise for future aircraft. 

The company reaffirmed its commitment to the environment and the Clean Sky programme in September, 2012 by agreeing with leading aerospace industry and research partners to extend this activity in “Clean Sky 2” – an extension of the original initiative that will run from 2014 to 2020. During this period, €3.6 billion will be invested by the industry and the European Commission, while focusing on ACARE’s long-term vision to reduce air transport CO2 emissions by as much as 75 per cent by 2050.

Airbus also is contributing to the improvement of air traffic management with its participation in the SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) joint undertaking, created to improve control of aircraft flying the skies of Europe and reduce airport congestion – which may decrease the environmental impact by 10 per cent per flight. 

Further technologies under evaluation by Airbus include the use of hybrid laminar flow control (HLFC) to reduce aircraft viscous drag, and the Green Advanced Panels (GAP) project – which would replace the chemical milling of aircraft panels with a more environmentally-friendly process.

Fly Your Ideas competition

Airbus always is actively seeking new ways to enhance the industry’s eco-efficiency. The company’s "Fly Your Ideas" competition was created to give students across the globe the chance to help shape air transport’s future with innovative ideas – offering a grand prize to the team whose concept represents the greatest short or long-term potential to improve the industry's value and reduce its environmental impact. 

This biennial challenge has produced such ideas as using a castor plant to develop the first-ever single plant-based high performance composite materials for aircraft cabin components, using electro-motors for aircraft taxiway movements, and construction of a ground-based wind power generation system that exploits the wakes of aircraft generated during take-off and landing.

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