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Minimising environmental impact

Minimising environmental impact

Environmental values form a key part of our strategy. We use the very latest technologies in our efforts to maximise the benefits of our products and services, while minimising the environmental impact of their manufacturing and operation. 

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Responsible consumption and production

Eco-efficiency and innovation act as drivers to reduce our environmental footprint, meet current and future environmental challenges and achieve sustainable economic growth and development. 

Climate action

We are constantly improving the environmental performance of our products, while our satellites play a key role in monitoring and understanding climate change.

Our commitments

“At Airbus we believe that by demanding more of ourselves, we can demand less of our planet. We are challenging ourselves to go further when it comes to taking responsibility of the environmental impact of our product throughout its lifecycle, and are investing major efforts into examining and reducing the impact of our products in operation together with all actors within the aviation sector. We not only rigorously track and measure our own impact, in our sites, products and services, but we also collaborate with our worldwide supply chain to drive more effective environmental management and decarbonize our industry. And we place innovation at the core of this effort by investing in research, new technologies, and sustainable solutions to help us reach our vision.”

Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO

Click here to read the entire Airbus Environmental Policy Statement

Environmental certification and transparency

Airbus maintains and continually seeks to improve robust, integrated site and product environmental management systems (EMS) certified ISO 14001, driving the company’s environmental approach and objectives. ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) 14001 is an internationally recognised standard that prescribes rigorous criteria for an EMS, and Airbus was the first aircraft manufacturer to be certified for all its sites, products and services.  

Alongside our commitment to the UN SDGs and meeting the ISO 14001 standards, we are also committed to sharing our environmental performance with our stakeholders and disclosing it in our annual non-financial report and through our participation in the UN Global Compact. We do this by collecting, consolidating and reporting both quantitative and qualitative data on an annual basis, enabling us to measure our environmental impact and track our performance. 

Environmental principles

To address the CO2 challenge, Airbus, along with airlines, airports, air traffic management and other manufacturers, committed to the ATAG CO2 emission goals in 2008:

  • Between 2009 and 2020, fleet fuel efficiency will be improved by 1.5% per year
  • From 2020, net carbon emissions from aviation will be capped through carbon neutral growth (CNG)
  • By 2050, net aviation carbon emissions will be half of what they were in 2005.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Carbon Offsetting & Reduction Scheme for Aviation (CORSIA) should also play an important role in achieving CNG from 2020.

At a European level, we are also guided by the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE)'s long-term aim to reduce air transport CO2 emissions by up to 75% by 2050.

Furthermore, we are investing and focusing our research efforts on developing electric and hybrid-electric propulsion technologies that promise significant environmental benefits, significant quantities of low carbon fuels, optimised ways of operating the aircraft and sustainable ways to offset emissions.

Environmental performance in products, services and projects

In the last 50 years, the aviation industry has cut fuel burn and CO2 emissions per seat / kilometre by more than 80%, NOx emissions by 90% and noise by 75%. While this improvement is extremely impressive, societal expectations and the predicted high traffic growth rate are placing increasing demands on all aviation stakeholders to continually reduce its impact on health and climate change.

Airbus recognises its role in reducing the global environmental footprint of the sector and the importance of respecting the Paris Agreement by keeping a global temperature rise well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Environmental performance of Airbus aircraft

Airbus is contributing to the industry’s target of a 1.5% improvement in fuel efficiency each year between 2009 and 2020 thanks to its latest-generation aircraft and continuous advances in the performance of the entire Airbus fleet around the world.

A350 XWB

Bringing together state-of-the-art aerodynamics, advanced technologies, high-performing engines and a weight-efficient airframe, the A350 XWB is significantly more efficient than the previous generation of aircraft.

·      -25% CO2 emissions

·      NOx emissions more than 31% below the ICAO CAEP*/6 industry standard

·      Lower noise levels with up to 21.4 EPNdB**  margin to ICAO Chapter 4 certification standard

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A320neo

The A320neo (new engine option) is the latest of many product upgrades as Airbus continues to innovate to improve the A320 Family environmental performance.  

·      -20% CO2 emissions

·      NOx emissions up to 60% below the ICAO CAEP*/6 industry standard

·      Lower noise levels with up to 20 EPNdB** margin to ICAO Chapter 4 certification standard

 

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A220

The A220 Family represents the most efficient aircraft in the skies in their class.

·      -20% CO2 emissions

·      NOx emissions 50% below the ICAO CAEP*/6 industry standard

·      Lower noise levels with up to 18 EPNdB** margin to ICAO Chapter 4 certification standard 

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A330neo

Airbus has committed to continuously improving the A330 jetliner family since its entry into service and launched the A330neo in 2014, incorporating latest-generation engines, aerodynamic enhancements and new cabin features.

·      -14% CO2 emissions

·      NOx emissions 27% below the ICAO CAEP*/6 industry standard

·      Lower noise levels with up to 13.6 EPNdB** margin to ICAO Chapter 4 certification standard

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A380

In-service experience with the A380 has shown a fuel consumption of 33% less than its nearest competitor, while it meets the noise requirements of international airports, including the strict requirements of London airports.

·      -33% CO2 emissions

·      NOx emissions up to 30% below the ICAO CAEP*/6 industry standard

·      Lower noise levels with up to 16.4 EPNdB** margin to ICAO Chapter 4 certification standard

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Sharklets

Sharklets are wing-tip devices that reduce fuel burn – by around 4% – and emissions by improving the aerodynamics of the aircraft significantly. Airbus can also offer this technology to upgrade their in-service aircraft, reducing fuel burn while saving over 900 tonnes of CO2 per year, per aircraft.

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*CAEP: Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection

**EPNdB: Effective perceived noise in decibels

Airbus’ sustainable services

Whether via the use of sustainable fuels, optimised air traffic management or satellite monitoring, Airbus offers a range of services that support commitments to reductions in emissions and deforestation. 

“We believe that by connecting billions of people across the world, air travel generates rich cultural exchanges, dialogue, partnerships and friendship—all of which enable a better and more prosperous world. And it is with great care to the environment and by seeking out innovative solutions that we are committed to allow for the next generations to keep flying in a total respect of our planet.”

Guillaume Faury, Airbus CEO

Sustainable Aviation Engagement Programme

Our Sustainable Aviation Engagement Programme brings together company-wide expertise on our products and services with external fuel distributors and producers of fuel from renewable natural resources. The programme is looking at how the environmental performance of Airbus’ latest-generation aircraft can be optimised to reduce fuel burn and noise in aircraft operations, including via the use of sustainable fuels, optimised air traffic management and ground operations. The programme also builds on the ATAG strategy for reducing CO2 emissions and is a framework for collaboration with airline customers. 

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STARLING

Airbus, The Forest Trust and SarVision have formed a partnership – STARLING – that builds upon each party’s expert knowledge to offer a unique satellite monitoring service, enabling us to fight global warming from space by verifying sustainable forest management. It delivers satellite images that undeniably confirm whether deforestation is occurring or not, thereby helping track deforestation reduction commitments by companies and countries.

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Air traffic management

Airbus is dedicated to the development and support of modern air traffic management (ATM) systems globally. The goal is to achieve the highest operational efficiencies with more direct routings, resulting in approximately 10% less aircraft fuel consumption, along with significant reductions in CO2 and noise emissions. Furthermore, our subsidiary Airbus NavBlue is a services company dedicated to flight operations and working closely with a range of partners to develop new ATM solutions.

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Airbus’ sustainable projects

Looking to the future, Airbus is involved in numerous innovative projects with a view to reducing emissions, including the Zephyr unmanned aerial vehicle and E-Fan X demonstrator, as well as the BLADE and Bluecopter demonstrators which are connected to the European Union’s Clean Sky initiative.   

Zephyr

Zephyr is a high-altitude pseudo-satellite, the world’s leading solar-electric, stratospheric Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). It will revolutionise humanitarian and environmental missions all over the world. The first unmanned aircraft of its kind to fly in the stratosphere, Zephyr runs exclusively on solar power, above the weather and conventional air traffic. It is able to fly for months at a time, combining the persistence of a satellite with the flexibility of a UAV.

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A340 "BLADE" test demonstrator aircraft

As part of the Clean Sky initiative, Airbus’ A340 “BLADE” test demonstrator aircraft has assessed the feasibility of introducing laminar flow wing technology on a large airliner. In September 2017, BLADE made its successful maiden flight and since then has been engaged in testing to explore the wing’s characteristics in flight – which aims to bring a 50% reduction of wing friction and up to 5% lower CO2 emissions. 

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Bluecopter demonstrator

Airbus’ Bluecopter demonstrator features an eco-friendly helicopter design, which reduces fuel consumption by 13%, thereby affirming the company’s next-generation ability to deliver energy-efficient aircraft. Using one of the company’s light medium twin-engine rotorcraft as the demonstrator platform, Bluecopter incorporates transversal technologies that can be applied across the Airbus product line. Moreover, it is the quietest helicopter in its weight category.

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E-Fan X

Today, electric and hybrid-electric propulsion is among the most promising technologies for reducing CO2 emissions. To this end, Airbus is working on the E-Fan X project in collaboration with Rolls-Royce. This hybrid-electric aircraft demonstrator is expected to take its first flight in 2021 and will be a giant leap towards making zero-emission flight a reality. 

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Industrial practices

“Over the past years, Airbus Procurement and its Environmental Network have succeeded in integrating environmental criteria into our sourcing activities. Now, our challenge is to influence our suppliers to better manage their own environmental footprint so that our entire supply chain aligns with our rigorous environmental standards, providing us with a cleaner supply chain end-to-end.”

Matthias Gramolla, Head of Procurement Ethics & Compliance

Airbus’ activities cover five main areas to reduce environmental impact across its manufacturing sites and offices around the globe.

Infrastructural improvement projects, management and benchmarking are the focus of activities to minimise energy and CO2; when it comes to raw material and waste, we are reducing our overall use of materials while boosting reuse and recycling; regarding air emissions, we aim to mitigate emissions at source, optimising product use and moving towards low or zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds) products; we are also limiting our water consumption and increasing its reuse.

When it comes to our supply chain, we are working on improving visibility on environmental risks, taking into account legal requirements linked to substances and developing partnerships at industry level. 

Reduced environmental impact across our sites

Energy and CO2

  Airbus facilities are built to minimise our environmental impact. As such, we have: 

· Globally recognised Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for our US Final Assembly Line

·  An environmental rating of “Excellent” per the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) for Airbus Helicopters’ engineering building in Marignane, France

·  Recognition for our innovative use of geothermal energy by AFPG (French Association of Geothermal Energy Professionals) for our Headquarters campus in Toulouse, France

·  Energy-efficient cooling and power supply systems for Airbus Defence and Space’s Cool Cube Data Centre in southern Germany 

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Raw material and waste

As the use of CFRP (Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastics) is increasing in aircraft design, opportunities are also being investigated as to how to recover this valuable material and reuse it – within aerospace and other industries – so as to make both environmental and financial savings. Airbus is spearheading new applications such as 3D printing of niche airplane structures using CFRP. Two other projects have seen CFRP waste being reused to build buggy body panels by an Airbus rally racing team as well as within the manufacturing of the A350 XWB wing covers. 

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Air emissions

Airbus has been working to reduce its use of volatile organic compounds (VOC) for some time. Pre-impregnated wipes have replaced solvents to clean painting equipment and new waterborne paints use low amounts of VOC. In Hamburg, a new procedure to paint the A380 is in operation, with electrostatic guns keeping paint mist to a minimum, while exhaust air is cleaned and treated – ensuring particles of paint can be disposed of separately.

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Water

Instead of using drinking water for industrial and sanitary needs, Airbus in Hamburg now treats river water, resulting in significant savings. In Spain, waterless urinals will be installed at all sites and air-cooled pumps are replacing water-cooled versions. Improved irrigation and revamped landscaping is helping to conserve water usage in Texas.

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Supply chain

Airbus is determined to ensure the highest standards of responsibility throughout its operations, including its supply chain. A comprehensive Supplier Code of Conduct clearly outlines Airbus’ core values with respect to human rights, labour, environmental and anti-corruption practices. Procurement is reinforcing responsibility and sustainability topics and requires that suppliers comply with external regulations, such as REACH, as well as follow the Supplier Code of Conduct.

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Airbus and substance management

Airbus and regulated substances

Airbus is committed to working with its suppliers to deliver products in compliance with applicable laws and regulations, while maintaining its quality, performance and reliability standards, accounting for stringent airworthiness and safety requirements. Health and safety and environmental compliance of its plants and activities are an Airbus priority. Airbus is working within a number of aerospace industry associations to promote best practices for implementation of environmental requirements, considering sector safety and lifecycle specificities. 

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Substances regulation

Substances are subject to regulatory measures based on their classification or size. Different laws and regulations at regional (for example, European) and national (various countries) level govern the manufacture, placing on the market, storage, transportation, handling, use, transfer (including import, export) and disposal of substances and products containing them. Laws and regulations, aimed at improving the protection of human health and the environment, prohibit or restrict the use of substances and are rapidly evolving globally. Airbus is guided by regulations such as REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act), F-GHG (fluorinated greenhouse gases) and ODS (ozone depleting substances). 

 

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Airbus and substances management

Based on information received from its suppliers, Airbus identifies, declares and tracks regulated substances used to meet stringent technical performance, safety and airworthiness requirements for its products. Airbus is involved in research for potential replacement technologies that reduce concerns for human health and the environment as alternatives to use of such substances; these are implemented when it can be demonstrated that they are viable.

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REACH

For substances subject to a ban under REACH, when suitable alternatives are not available (for example, for certain chromates), authorisation by the European authorities is required for their continued use. This is subject to compliance with strict conditions, including workplace safety and environmental requirements that must be maintained and monitored. Any authorisation that may be granted by the European Commission is time-limited so authorisation is viewed as only a temporary measure for management of such substances.

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Airbus’ management of regulated substances

 

Airbus is committed to comply with environmental compliant regulations while maintaining its quality, performance and reliability standards. To work on the management of regulated substances Airbus has created a cross-functional team. Read less Read more

Responsibility & Sustainability

Our approach for responsible business

Minimising environmental impact

Operating responsibly

Innovating for sustainable solutions

Contributing to a safer and more prosperous world

Fostering quality education and inclusion

Reporting and performance data

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