As a global partner for inclusive and sustainable industrial development, we create resilient infrastructure that empowers communities. We are committed to driving innovation and pursuing disruptive concepts to bring solutions to societal challenges.
To maintain our position as a global leader, we are committed to fostering a culture of innovation. We use this to help address critical issues such as sustainable mobility, production infrastructure, cyber security and climate change.
Our network of research facilities, scientists, engineers and partnerships drives our long-term growth at technology’s cutting edge. Our innovation network stretches from Europe to Asia, India and the United States.
Airbus spends over €3 billion annually on research and development and holds approximately 37,000 patents worldwide.
An important focus for Airbus is helping to foster innovation within developing markets. Our business accelerator Biz Lab is open to disruptive ideas within and outside the aerospace ecosystem and is attracting start-ups from across the world.
Bizlab’s Indian site, in Bengaluru, has worked with numerous start-ups from India and around the world, and will also be launching a community of B2B start-ups in areas such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and robotics.
In Africa, Airbus’ #africa4future initiative aims to unlock the existing innovative and creative spirit on the Sub-Saharan African continent. Our aim is to develop products and services for and with African people based on their needs. To this end, we are working with local partners to identify high-potential start-ups to create new services and products within the fields of aero-mobility.
Airbus collaborates with leading organisations and contributes to significant initiatives on a European and international scale, as well as holding an internationally recognised environmental certification in the form of the ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) 14001. The ISO 14000 family of standards provides practical tools for companies and organisations of all kinds looking to manage their environmental responsibilities.
Airbus was the first aircraft manufacturer to be certified ISO 14001 for all its sites, products and services. Our Environmental Management Systems (EMS) are based on this certification, supporting compliance and providing a framework for environmental performance improvements of our activities and products with a lifecycle perspective. More information on Airbus’ ISO 14001 certification can be found here.
Around 85% of Airbus' employees are operating under the framework of ISO 14001.
We supported the creation of the IAEG (International Aerospace Environmental Group), which aims at harmonising the response of the industry to existing and emerging environmental regulations, as well as aligning aerospace environmental standards.
We also lead or participate in various European and international environmental working groups within the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) and Aerospace Defence Security (ADS) Group, among others. Airbus plays a leading role in the European Union’s Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative to develop new innovations with environmental improvements.
One of these new innovations is our Racer demonstrator, an aircraft with the potential to reach speeds of 400 km/h, significantly faster than standard helicopters. Its advanced design also means it will be 10%-15% more efficient than standard helicopters. We are also leading the BLADE project, which aims to reduce wing friction and thus lower CO2 emissions. More information on the Clean Sky projects BLADE and Bluecopter Demonstrator can be found here.
We play a major role in the SESAR (Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research) initiative, which aims to shape the future of air transportation and drive sustainable growth around the world by developing solutions for air traffic management. Here we are contributing to the improvement of air traffic management, which could reduce CO2 emissions by 10% per flight. More information on air traffic management can be found here.
Developing sustainable fuels
We are heavily involved in the ITAKA European initiative (Initiative Towards Sustainable Kerosene for Aviation), which aims to speed up the commercialisation of aviation biofuels in Europe. Airbus was the first manufacturer to offer customers the option of delivering new aircraft with a blend of sustainable fuel through a programme developed in association with Air Total, which has installed the first ever sustainable biofuel station adjacent to the Airbus delivery centre in Toulouse.
Moreover, a new source of sustainable fuel has been created in Mobile, in the Southeast of the US, where Airbus has been working with RSB (Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials) on the development of sustainable alternative aviation fuels in the region. More info on this initiative can be found in the video below. We also intend to offer the possibility to perform customer delivery flights with sustainable aviation fuel from Hamburg and Tianjin in the future.
We have also been collaborating with the European Space Agency (ESA) for over 25 years on earth observation activities, supporting the detection of environmental changes on a planetary scale. Over 25 Airbus satellites in orbit have direct or indirect applications for climate change monitoring, and there are nearly 20 more satellites in development. Overall, these include the EarthCARE satellite for one of ESA’s Earth Explorer missions and Sentinel satellites for the Copernicus programme.
Research 2.0: in-service aircraft collect climate change data...
The IAGOS-CARIBIC initiative highlights our strong commitment to advancing scientific knowledge on climate research. Seven Airbus wide-body aircraft equipped with measurement devices are now flying internationally every day, with the support of the programme’s associated airlines: Lufthansa, China Airlines, Air France, Iberia, Cathay Pacific and Air Namibia. The measurement devices capture key aircraft parameters and atmospheric data such as concentrations in ozone, water vapour and carbon monoxide.
Fuel economy for transport vessels
Furthermore, AirSeas engineers from Airbus have transferred their expertise in the field of aeronautics to maritime transport, designing SeaWing. This acts as a traction wing to tow merchant vessels. Developed to reduce the emissions and fuel consumption of ships transporting Airbus aircraft sections, this technology could also be used by other industries.
Finally, Airbus is partnering with British Airways, Heathrow Airport and NATS (the main air navigation service provider in the UK) to study and develop operational procedures to reduce the number of people affected by noise around London Heathrow. This project utilises the capabilities of the A380, the quietest aircraft of its size.
This comprehensive innovation infrastructure enables us to focus on a range of research and development areas that we believe will play a key role in providing vital infrastructural solutions in the future. Below are just several of the major topics our research and development teams are focusing on.
By 2030, 60% of the world’s population will live in cities. To address the rising concerns of traffic congestion, Airbus is harnessing its experience to develop solutions that will enable commuters and travellers to navigate our cities by air.
Development of electric and hybrid-electric propulsion will enable quieter and cleaner commercial aircraft, opening up a range of new markets and possibilities. In collaboration with Rolls-Royce, we are developing the E-Fan X, a hybrid-electric aircraft demonstrator that is expected to take its first flight in 2021.