Airbus’ commitment to eco-efficiency begins at the earliest stages of its aircraft development. Every year, the company invests some €2 billion in research and development – of which more than 90 per cent leads to environmental benefits for the aviation sector. For example, part of this investment is used to develop new aircraft that generate fewer emissions and less noise, while carrying a larger payload over longer ranges.
A “cradle-to-cradle” approach also is becoming more prevalent in the work of Airbus’ designers, developing eco-friendly products and technologies that take into account the entire lifecycle – from design all the way through to recycling and re-using.
Working with suppliers to reduce engine emissions is a priority for Airbus. In addition to optimised propulsion systems and overall aerodynamic efficiency, the continuous and progressive introduction of advanced materials and new processes reduce an aircraft’s basic weight to minimise fuel consumption and its corresponding engine emissions. Lessening noise is equally important for Airbus.
The A380 is the first commercial aircraft to incorporate as much as 25 per cent composites, with its carbon-fibre reinforced plastic composite centre wing box saving up to 1.5 tonnes of weight. As a result, the double-deck jetliner has a very low fuel burn of less than 3 litres per passenger per 100 kilometres. In-service experience has shown a fuel consumption of 20 per cent less than its nearest competitor.
The company also 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.
Airbus brings together the very latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies in the A350 XWB to provide a 25 per cent step-change in fuel efficiency compared to its current long-range competitor. Contributing to this performance are the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines that power the A350 XWB family.
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 aircraft’s innovative all-new carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) fuselage results in lower fuel consumption, as well as easier maintenance.
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 16dB below the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Chapter 4 limit.
The best keeps getting better
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 and the PW1100G PurePower from Pratt & Whitney) and 2.5 per cent from the use of Airbus’ Sharklet wingtip devices.
Introducing 1,500 A320neo jetliners to the global single-aisle fleet would lead to around 1.5 per cent fuel saving per year by 2020 (6.5 million tonnes of CO2 savings). Replacing the whole existing single-aisle fleet with A320neo jetliners would result in savings of approximately 20 per cent per year by 2020 with 87 million tonnes of carbon dioxide savings.
Learn more about the Airbus families of jetliners.