Airbus lights up Berlin’s Humboldt-Box with its vision of the future of flight in 2050

Breathtaking lightshow launches Airbus Smarter Skies campaign ahead of ILA

10 September 2012 Press Release

A spectacular 4D projection light show transformed Berlin’s Humboldt-Box into a moving and pulsating canvas to demonstrate the benefits of smarter flight in the future. The show, which launches the Future by Airbus Smarter Skies vision of air travel in 2050 and beyond, illustrates in stunning perspective how smarter aircraft operations could cut travel times, reduce emissions and lead to fewer delays.

“Our light show unveils the significant benefits of combining smarter aircraft, smarter technology and smarter skies in 2050”, says Charles Champion, Executive Vice President Engineering at Airbus. “Our Smarter Skies vision is one where highly intelligent aircraft would be able to organise themselves and select the most efficient and environmentally friendly routes, making the best use of daily weather and atmospheric conditions. It is also one where aircraft might copy the best aspects of nature and fly like flocks of birds allowing them to travel more efficiently and lower their energy use.”

Beginning with a single paper aeroplane launched from the balcony of the Humboldt-Box, a maze of 3D blocks depicts the barriers and obstacles created by current national air space boundaries. A map of the world scattered with pin points and bright pulsing lines of light highlights the world’s busiest routes. The show then takes passengers forward in time to 2050 to demonstrate a world of flight where obstacles are removed, passenger travelling times are shortened, and where fuel use and emissions are reduced. The show closes with a fleet of Airbus concept planes flying in formation.

Charles Champion continues: “Our research for the Future by Airbus programme has shown that air passengers expect to fly more in the future, but they want to do so with fewer delays, less noise and more sustainably. The aviation industry has already committed to some of the toughest targets of any industry by pledging to cut aircraft emissions by 50% by 2050. Our Concept Plane has illustrated how aircraft design could contribute. Our Smarter Skies campaign, brought to life by this light display, demonstrates the future benefits that smart aircraft operations could bring if we work together as an industry to make them happen”.

The Future by Airbus Smarter Skies vision consists of five concepts which could be implemented across all stages of an aircraft’s operation. It includes aircraft launched into a continuous ‘eco-climb’, flying in formation using ‘express skyways’, ‘low noise’ glided approaches, low emission landing and ground operations and airports that grow their own alternative energy sources.

For more information on Future by Airbus go to thefuturebyairbus.com

Notes to Editors

·  4D projection mapping is the process of projecting content and 3D animation onto complex structures such as buildings and stage sets. 4D has become the name that differentiates these projects from 3D stereoscopic that we see in the cinema.

·  Airbus has engaged with over 1.75 million people through airshows, events and online since 2010 as part of the Future by Airbus – its vision of sustainable aviation in 2050

·  Future by Airbus has seen the unveiling of its revolutionary Concept Plane and Concept Cabin.  Now its latest future-gazing suggest there is potential to look beyond the aircraft, to the way in which it flies, to potentially deliver significant environmental and passenger benefits

This Future by Airbus Smarter Skies vision consists of five concepts:

Aircraft take-off in continuous ‘eco-climb’

. Aircraft launched through assisted take-offs using renewably powered, propelled acceleration, allowing steeper climb from airports to minimise noise and reach efficient cruise altitudes quicker.

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

Aircraft in free flight and formation along ‘express skyways’

. Highly intelligent aircraft would be able to “self-organise” and select the most efficient and environmentally friendly routes (“free flight”), making the optimum use of prevailing weather and atmospheric conditions.

. High frequency routes would also allow aircraft to benefit from flying in formation like birds during cruise bringing efficiency improvements due to drag reduction and lower energy use

Low-noise, free-glide approaches and landings

Aircraft allowed to take free glide approaches into airports that reduce emissions during the overall decent and reduce noise during the steeper approach as there is no need for engine thrust or air breaking. 

These approaches would also reduce the landing speed earlier which would make shorter landing distances achievable (less runway needed).

Low emission ground operations

. On landing aircraft engines could be switched off sooner and runways cleared faster, ground handling emissions could be cut.

. Technology could optimise an aircraft’s landing position with enough accuracy for an autonomous renewably powered taxiing carriage to be ready, so aircraft could be transported away from runways quicker, which would optimise terminal space, and remove runway and gate limitations.

Powering future aircraft and infrastructure

. The use of sustainable biofuels and other potential alternative energy sources (such as electricity, hydrogen, solar etc) will be necessary to secure supply and further reduce aviation’s environmental footprint in the long term.  This will allow the extensive introduction of regionally sourced renewable energy close to airports, feeding both aircraft and infrastructure requirements sustainably 

  •  On the A380 passengers use just three litres of fuel to travel 100km – the same as a small family car.  The A320neo, the fastest-selling commercial jetliner ever, will allow a 15 per cent reduction in fuel consumption. The A350 XWB will provide a 25 per cent step-change in fuel efficiency.
  • The aviation industry as a whole has reduced fuel burn and emissions by 70% and noise by 75% in the last 40 years.  It is now targeting total carbon neutral growth by 2020 and a 50% net CO2 emissions reduction by 2050.

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