Airbus works tirelessly to offer its aircraft customers the best solutions available today, with a notable example being its eco-efficient A320neo (new engine option) – which provides minimum change with maximum benefit for the best-selling A319, A320 and A321 through the incorporation of two new engine choices along with Sharklet wingtip devices.
The decision to re-engine Airbus’ single-aisle market leader was partly inspired by airlines' need to reduce fuel burn. Every in-service A320neo will provide significant environmental benefits, as well, saving 3,600 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
This “win-win” combination of commercial benefit and eco-efficiency also applies to technology still under development, with open rotor engines envisioned for future airliners promising fuel burn savings of 25 per cent.
CO2 emissions during manufacturing and day-to-day processes at Airbus facilities are being reduced through the discovery and application of more “win-win” scenarios. In Hamburg, Germany, the A380 paint shop’s optimised ventilation system reduces energy consumption by 50,000 kilowatt hours during the average 16-day processing time for an A380 – resulting in considerable cost savings in fuel used and 32 tonnes less CO2 emissions per aircraft.
At the Spanish A400M final assembly line in San Pablo, 18,000 sq. metres of solar panels provide 10 per cent of the plant's total electricity needs without producing CO2. Elsewhere in Spain, Getafe's centre for prototype aircraft has pipes for geo-thermal heating which run through thermo-active foundations, avoiding the need for CO2-generating fossil fuels in heating the building.
In Wales at Airbus’ Broughton site, the company’s North Factory is equipped with passive ventilation, air-sourced heat pumps and a bio-mass boiler to keep temperatures just right. There are still some CO2 emissions, however they are significantly reduced along with the heating bills.
Working with partners can lead to emission reduction, as well. Airbus currently is championing the establishment of bio-fuel value chains around the world. As a leading manufacturer, the company can play the role of a catalyst by encouraging and reassuring farmers, governments, fuel producers and hubs to supply the quality of bio-kerosene needed for aircraft.
So far value chains have been established in: Australia (Virgin Australia), Brazil (TAM), Middle East (Qatar), TAROM (Romania). Spain (Iberia). Airbus hopes to add value chains in all continents.
For example Airbus has joined a consortium including Virgin Australia to study a new pathway to produce sustainable aviation fuels. Eucalyptus mallee trees, grown in Western Australia's wheat belt are sustainably harvested and converted to a feedstock for refining into alternative aviation fuel via a process called Pyrolysis. Airbus' role includes supporting the approval and certification process so that Pyrolysis based fuels can be used for the first time in commercial aviation.
Other examples of CO2 “win-wins” can be found all around. In Toulouse, France, a fleet of electric cars has been introduced, and is now quietly moving employees around the sites with fewer emissions, less noise and at reduced costs. Almost simultaneously in Bavaria, Germany, the Airbus-sponsored technology demonstrator “e-Genius” recently made its maiden flight, featuring an electric propulsion system which pushes the limits of electric flight to a power level of 60kW.