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Preserving biodiversity is “natural” for Airbus

Preserving biodiversity is “natural” for Airbus

Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor discussed the company’s wide-ranging commitment to greener flight and a cleaner planet at last week’s “See the bigger picture” photo contest awards ceremony.

8 December 2009 Feature story

Airbus’ commitment to eco-action in all forms was underscored by its support of the “See the bigger picture” international photo contest, which encouraged young people to get “eye-to-eye” with the natural world to better understand the importance of biodiversity on Earth.

The competition’s eight talented winners and their images of animals, insects and plants were honoured during a ceremony at National Geographic headquarters in the U.S. last week, where Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor also provided an outline of the company’s environmental initiatives.

“While we know that growth in travel is a global need, we do not believe that this need is inconsistent with creating a better environment for all,” said McArtor. “This is not an ‘either/or’ debate – we believe in the growth of air travel and the need to preserve the planet.”

While the industry has made great strides in reducing aircraft emissions and noise over the past three decades, Airbus is aiming even higher, McArtor said. The company is investigating the most advanced aircraft technologies and design features to lessen air transport’s impact on the environment – including optimised propulsion systems, overall aerodynamic efficiency, and reducing the basic weight of an aircraft to minimise fuel consumption.

McArtor highlighted the role nature plays in the development of these Airbus innovations. He cited the discipline of Biomimicry, which studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. 

“We have plenty to learn from nature,” McArtor said. “The first concepts of flying machines were based on mimicking nature. Leonardo da Vinci’s intriguing designs for wings and helicopters were based on his continual observations of the world around him.”

During his comments at the “See the bigger picture” ceremony, McArtor also reaffirmed Airbus’ broad commitment to a cleaner environment.

“While we recognise our responsibility to pioneer and champion new solutions to greener flight, we also need to work harder to promote actions that will support a more sustainable world,” he said. This includes tackling deforestation, the loss of biodiversity, and other causes that account for some 98 per cent of global CO2 emissions.

McArtor also underscored Airbus’ commitment to the Green Wave, a youth initiative of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity that encourages young people to learn about the environment and the threats to its future. 

The "See the bigger picture" competition was created by Airbus and National Geographic in support of this programme. “We want the Green Wave to be as far reaching as possible,” McArtor said, “and no industry is as far-reaching as aviation, with its global networks.”

“Nature is an important source of innovation and ideas for Airbus,” he added. “It’s only natural that we would make a commitment to preserving biodiversity.”

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