The futureby Airbus
… / Future by Airbus / Smarter skies / Aircraft take-off in continuous ‘eco-climb’


Aircraft launched through assisted takeoffs using renewably-powered, propelled acceleration will allow for steeper climb from airports to minimise noise and reach efficient cruise altitudes more quickly.

As space becomes a premium and mega-cities a reality, this approach also could minimise land use, as shorter runways could be utilised.

Welcome aboard flight 2050.

Take your seat and prepare to be propelled to optimum cruising altitude in a continuous ‘eco-climb.'

Listen to the changing sound of engines during flight and it’s obvious: an aircraft draws on its power reserves more during takeoff than at any other time. The power needed to take off is determined based on a number of factors - including runway length, wind speed, temperature, and the weight of the aircraft itself.

However, this takeoff power only is required for a very brief portion of the total flight.  Once cruising in the sky overhead, an aircraft doesn’t need as much to maintain altitude. So why not source the energy required at takeoff from an innovation installed on the ground?  Can the burden (and weight) be removed from the aircraft itself?

An assisted takeoff – using some form of propelled acceleration – would mean aircraft could be lighter, with smaller engines consuming less fuel. All of which means an optimised aircraft could climb to its most efficient cruising altitude more quickly.  A continuous "eco-climb" would further cut noise and CO2 emissions, especially if renewable fuels were used, making the process even more eco-efficient. This would be in sharp contrast to today.  Aircraft currently climb in a series of incremental – and inefficient – stages, which require more fuel.

With less time and distance required for takeoff, the runways could be shortened by up to 1/3rd, minimising land use, and enabling airport capacity to increase or new micro-airports to emerge. These could be located near city centres – or the mega-cities that will become a reality – with space becoming even more of a premium.

How will it work?

Aircraft could be manoeuvred onto a track system and accelerated using either electro-magnetic motors built into the track or an inductive circuit within the aircraft itself.

Acceptable acceleration and deceleration limits of passengers would need to be determined, but the experience would be more akin to a comfortable children’s funfair ride rather than a high-octane white knuckle theme park.

The ultimate, albeit it very extreme, concept is to have a system that not only launches but also captures the aircraft, removing the need for landing gear.  This would require all airports to have the same system, to accommodate all routes along with alternative/diversion airports, and most likely is beyond 2050.


Did you know?

"We surveyed over 10,000 people around the world who will be passengers in 2050 to ask what they want from the aviation industry in the future.

Their message was clear – we need to help as many people as possible share in the benefits that air transport brings, but we need to achieve this while looking after the environment."

Related news