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Future of flight

Airbus welcomes BDLI campaign

Despite there still being no new government, things are happening in Berlin. This is the first legislative period for nearly 40% of the members of the German parliament. Our goal is to provide all these politicians, as well as all those re-elected – and, of course, all other interested parties elsewhere – with comprehensive information about aerospace topics. To do this, willing employees from the Berlin Airbus office are joined by staff at the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI).

We therefore expressly welcome the “Final Call” issue and information campaign launched by BDLI a few days ago. Extensive information on topics and issues relating to the aerospace industry will be shared via posters and digital channels (www.schub-für-mobile-zukunft.de; Twitter #finalcall) over the next weeks and months, up until the Berlin Air Show (April 25-29). The topics to be addressed range from civil aviation to helicopters and space travel. The campaign focuses on questions relating to technology and sustainability, but also reflects on how aviation can contribute to future mobility concepts, for example in urban areas, and as a complement to conventional means of transport.

BDLI Kampagne

Buzzword – environmental protection

Carbon neutral growth is to be achieved in aviation from 2020. To fulfil this objective, technological innovations are more important than ever. Electric mobility plays a key role. This is a key technology, not only on the roads, but also in the air!

 

Buzzword – noise emissions:

With aircraft models such as the A350 XWB and the A320neo, Airbus is setting new standards, not only in terms of significant reductions in fuel consumption, but also in noise levels. Thanks to innovative engines, the noise footprint has been halved in comparison to the previous generation. In coming years, modern “whisper jets” will replace ever-ageing models and thus play a notable part in relieving the burden on the hundreds and thousands of people living near airports.

 

Buzzword – urban mobility:

All around the world, today's city roads are already congested. Increasing urbanisation means that this trend is only set to further intensify. By 2030, around 60 percent of the Earth’s population will be living in towns and cities. New future mobility concepts can provide a remedy here by taking air space (3rd dimension) into account in town planning. For example, in the near future, the CityAirbus is set to transport up to four passengers through primarily urban airspace. In order for us to make this a success, above all, infrastructure and regulatory requirements must be fulfilled. Through innovative concepts and in conjunction with politics, our goal is to create the framework required to make modern agglomerations less stressful and more habitable.

Buzzword – space: 

Space also offers possibilities for making our life on Earth simpler and more comfortable, for example via the use of navigation systems to continually identify the quickest and most efficient routes. In this respect, the European Galileo satellite navigation system is a future-oriented technology which has been operating in space since 2016, currently with 18 satellites developed and built under German leadership. It is the European Union’s largest infrastructure project.

For these kinds of technologies and projects to be implemented, as well as innovative companies such as Airbus, the necessary political framework conditions must also be present. This is another point highlighted by the BDLI campaign. It is thus an important platform for further promoting dialogue between the aerospace industry and politics. Whether on site or via the live broadcasts, the Berlin Air Show, April 25-29, will be the occasion to admire just how fascinating the results – and above all the products – of an innovative aerospace industry are.


Status: Jan 2018

E-Fan X: Starting signal for electric mobility above the clouds

Electric cars are now a common sight on the roads, the first e-ships are on the market, and Elon Musk recently promised electric trucks. And Airbus wants to bring what's been achieved on the streets and seas to the skies. The goal: an e-aircraft for up to 100 passengers. In order to cope with the mammoth task, the company is joining forces with two industry giants. Airbus, Siemens and Rolls Royce are starting work immediately to jointly develop a hybrid electric demonstrator, which is scheduled to take to the skies for the first time in 2021.

Hybrid solution for the flying of tomorrow

E-Fan X in flight

The E-Fan X is a complex hybrid concept. First of all, one of the four jet engines of a test aircraft will be replaced by an electric motor with a power output of 2 megawatts – roughly equivalent to that of 10 medium-sized cars. The electric propulsion unit is powered by a battery, itself supplied by a generator. When high power is required – at take-off for example – the generator and battery supply energy together. During descent on the other hand, the engine blades work like small windmills to generate power and recharge the battery – a principle which has already proven itself to be successful in a similar way on electric cars. Looking further ahead, in a future project phase, a second jet engine will be replaced by the hybrid model.

On the way to zero-emission flying

The hybrid drive is a milestone along the path to achieving the ambitious climate change objectives of the sector. Indeed, the aviation industry has committed to reducing the CO2 emissions of new aircraft by 75 percent by 2050, compared to the year 2000. This cannot be achieved with today's technologies. Electric mobility is a key component. 

 e-FanX-3D-graphic

The E-Fan X is expected to achieve percentage fuel savings in the double digits. And noise emissions will also be significantly reduced. The schedule set by Airbus, Rolls Royce and Siemens is also ambitious. After the first test flight in 2021, the technology will be further developed so that the first regional aircraft can fly mid-range routes as early as 2030.

Three heavyweights team up

For this pioneering project, the three partners are pooling their know-how. Airbus is responsible for the overall architecture and the integration of the new drive in the aircraft. The company has the benefit of its extensive history with electric flight demonstrators, such as the Cri-Cri and the E-Fan. Rolls Royce is constructing the engine and the generator, among other tasks. And Siemens is supplying the two-megawatt electric motor.

Airbus and Siemens began working together on electric mobility as early as 2016. In the following year, they opened the E-Aircraft Systems House in Ottobrun (Bavaria, Germany) with several hundred employees, thus heralding the start of the era of electric flight in Germany. The E-Fan X is part of this development collaboration.

 

Status: Nov 2017

 

Future Air Power Vision

Future Air Power

 

Bertrand Piccards vision of clean aviation

Guest article

Ever since the Wright brothers took off for the first powered flight in 1903, aviation has been driving our imagination and innovative strength. And it's set to continue to do so in the future. But in what areas? Flying is already fast and safe; now it needs to be made even cleaner.

Picard
People 13 July 2018

Picard

Bertrand Piccard ist der Initiator und Visionär hinter Solar Impulse, dem ersten Flugzeug, das dauerhaft ohne Treibstoff fliegen kann. Im Jahr 2016 gelang es Piccard, der sich mit André Borschberg im Cockpit des einsitzigen Solarflugzeugs abwechselte, nur mit Sonnenkraft getrieben einmal die Welt zu umrunden. Mit dieser Pioniertat wollte er für die Nutzung von erneuerbaren Energien werben. Im nächsten Schritt plant Piccard unter anderem die Gründung der World Alliance for Efficient Solutions.

Read more

Bertrand Piccard is the initiator and visionary behind Solar Impulse, the first aircraft that can fly long-distance without fuel. In 2016, taking turns with André Borschberg in the single-seater cockpit of the solar aircraft, Piccard succeeded in flying around the world using only solar energy. With this pioneering act, his aim was to make the case for the use of renewable energies. As the next step, among other things, Piccard is planning to found the World Alliance for Efficient Solutions.

That’s exactly what I wanted to demonstrate with Solar Impulse: that long-haul powered flights are possible without a single drop of fuel. Will we soon see fully solar-powered aircraft carrying 300 passengers across the oceans? To answer yes would be crazy. To answer no would be stupid. The required technology doesn’t exist yet. But the same was true for Lindbergh when he was faced with the first transatlantic flight. We must realise that limits only exist in our head! And even before people travel in fuel-free aircraft, we can make aircraft and airports cleaner:

Storage capacity and energy efficiency

If you think about the fact that one kilogram of jet fuel produces 36 times as much power as a one kilogram lithium-ion battery, a change appears unrealistic. But in comparison to combustion engines, electric engines are two to three times more efficient and significantly lighter. In light of that, the switch appears a lot more feasible. I bet that in less than 10 years, all-electric aircraft will be flying short and medium-haul routes, landing quietly at city airports with up to 50 passengers on-board. There are also concepts for electric tow trucks capable of bringing aircraft onto the runway without fuel. In parallel, we need to be carrying out research into hydrogen-powered aircraft, hybrid solutions and biofuels.

Profitability

Clean technologies have the potential to give new momentum to the entire aviation industry. Take Fort Worth Airport for example: last year, it became the first airport in the US and the 23rd worldwide to achieve carbon-neutral status. This has resulted not only in increased profits, but also a 38 percent saving in energy costs – despite passenger numbers having increased by 15 percent since 2010.

Legal framework conditions

For our round-the-world flight, the legal challenges were often just as high as the technical ones – with regard to overflight permissions for instance. Regulations must keep pace with the development of aviation. To save flying time and fuel, we need to prioritise direct flight paths. Likewise for continuous descent approach procedures, which can save a tonne of fuel for every large aircraft which lands.

For decades, Germany has been known for its innovative strength and strong industry. Probably more so than any other country, it is pre-destined to conquer the ambitious transition to a climate-friendly economy. Success will depend on the pioneering spirit of governments and major corporations.


Status: March 2017

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Future of flight

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