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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-fü; 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 2020.

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. 


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 2020, 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


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