As commercial aircraft spend 30-plus years in operational service, Airbus takes the long-term view in accompanying the aircraft it produces throughout their lifetime – enabling operators to maximise performance and minimise costs, while also contributing to the overall sustainability of air transportation.
This is a continuous cycle for Airbus, as it regularly invests in research and development to raise in-service utilization during the flight and on the ground.
The focus on lifecycle improvement is increasingly large, covering such topics as innovative service and support offerings, implementing improved air navigation services for more efficient flights from takeoff to landing, and all on ground activities including maintenance and embodiments – supporting the wider commercialisation of sustainable fuels.
Once an aircraft has reached the end of its operating life, Airbus can deliver solutions for their dismantling and recycling as part of its overall commitment to sustainable aviation.
Saving fuel and
Increasing the fuel efficiency of aircraft is a key element in the air transportation sector’s commitment to sustainable aviation, and Airbus works across multiple fronts as it contributes to this goal.
Airbus was the first manufacturer to offer its customers the option of using a blend of sustainable fuel when newly-delivered aircraft depart the final assembly lines for the trip to their home bases. Many airline customers have benefited from this programme, developed in association with Air Total, and Airbus also is heavily involved in the ITAKA European initiative to speed up overall commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel in Europe.
Increased efficiency in the management of air traffic is another Airbus focus. More direct routings from departure to arrival can lower an aircraft’s fuel burn by approximately 10%, while also significantly reducing CO2 and noise emissions. This is why Airbus embarked on developing modern air traffic management procedures in collaboration with the company’s NavBlue subsidiary, while also working with a range of partners to further optimise in-flight operational efficiency.
Looking to the future, an example of Airbus’ innovative thinking is the fello’fly demonstrator project, which takes inspiration from nature. It applies the flying technique of migrating geese to investigate if the birds’ use of wake-energy retrieval – surfing the air upwash of a leader bird – could be applied by flying two passenger aircraft closer together. Initial evaluations have identified a possible 5-10% fuel savings per trip with the application of this concept in airline service.
Ensuring maximum availability and reliability are vital to airlines throughout an aircraft’s operating life, and Airbus offers a wide range of services for operators – with the goals of reducing operating costs, increasing the flexibility to expand and adapt routes, as well as decarbonising their overall operations.
Flight operation solutions from Navblue - include aircraft monitoring systems that help measure performance to save fuel during take-off, landing and throughout the flight that contribute to minimising emissions (noise and CO2).
Upgrade services from Airbus offer a wide range of modifications to enhance and optimise aircraft. As modern technologies are developed and introduced – often in association with new aircraft programmes – Airbus provides retrofit solutions to allow fleet harmonisation and improvements. An example is integrating the A320 Family’s Sharklets, enabling older in-service aircraft to benefit from the increased range and performance of these large wingtip devices, as well as reduced fuel-burned and CO2 emissions.
As the cabin is key to passenger satisfaction, Airbus upgrades enable operators to adapt and modernise their cabins – from the refurbishment of interior lighting and the introduction of in-flight connectivity to a full cabin reconfiguration.
One aspect of Airbus’ services capitalises on the increasing digitalization of data to optimise maintenance, monitor system trends, and perform real-time troubleshooting. By leveraging Airbus’ Skywise platform – the first open data platform developed for the aviation industry – the entire ecosystem can now be connected and integrated to better understand and manage operations, scalable from a single aircraft to large multi-aircraft fleets, and applicable at each stage of an aircraft’s lifecycle.
Aircraft end-of-life services
Airbus was the first manufacturer to undertake a voluntary approach to aircraft decommissioning and recycling. As a one-third shareholder in Tarmac Aerosave, Airbus helped establish proven methods for decommissioning, dismantling and recycling its entire product range in an environmentally responsible way – with up to 90% of an airplane eligible for reuse or recycling. For non-recyclable parts, the focus is on safe disposal.
Building on its leadership position, activity, increasing the dismantling and recycling capacity while reducing the time needed for this process.
Discover more in the sustainability section on Airbus' product responsibility
Learn more about the life cycle of an aircraft