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reduction technologies. This includes the zero-
splice inlet te chnology for engine nacelles to reduce
Airbus is also applying ‘biomimicry’ to its designs –
copying the best ideas from nature. The A350 XWB,
for example, will feature probes to detect wind gusts
ahead of the wings and deploy moveable surfaces for
more efficient flight, copying the way sea birds sense
gust loads with their beaks and adjust the shape of
their wing feathers to suppress lift.
The manufacturer is also working on fuel-cell
technology, which it sees as offering huge potential
in reducing emissions, fuel consumption and noise.
A fuel cell can transform the energ y contained in
hydrog en into ele ctricity by combining hydrogen
with oxygen in a cold combustion.
Fuel cells have the greatest near-term potential for the
replacement of auxiliary power unit (APU) use on the
ground, resulting in emission-free ground op erations
and lower fuel consumption. In June, Airbus partnered
with Parker Aerospace to develop fuel-cell technolog y as
an alternative energ y source for on-ground and in-flight
electrical power supply.
A primar y goal of the partnership is to de velop a
technology demonstrator, followed by a joint flight-test
campaign and additional tests.
Aircraft manufacturers including Airbus are even
applying green methods to aircraft painting. The
“base coat, clear coat” liver y painting method, for
example, which requires only one layer of thick paint
and a layer of varnish or clear coat for prote ction
represents a dramatic reduction in paint volume when
compared to the six coats that standard methods can
use, the company says.
Manufacturers are also working to address aircraft
end-of-life issues in an environmentally responsible
way. Airbus says some 6,400 aircraft – approximately
300 per annum – are due to retire from ser vice by 2026.
Airbus was involved in the EC -supp orted PAMELA
project – Process for Advanced Management of End
of Life Aircraft – which determined that as much as 85
percent of an aircraft’s components could be safely and
effectively recycled, reused or recovered.
PAMELA has resulted in the establishment of a
dedicated centre at Tarbes Airport in France where
aircraft are decommissioned, dismantled and recycled
in safe and environmentally responsible conditions. The
facility is run by the Tarmac Aerospace joint venture,
which includes Airbus, SITA France and Snecma .
Likewise, Boeing is following green principles in all its
activities. The manufacturer has committed to investing
more than 75 percent of its Commercial Airplanes
research and development efforts into improving the
environmental performance of its aircraft.
In its latest product, the new 737 MAX , Boeing is
promising a 16 percent improvement in fuel-burn per
seat, compared with current competitors, and 50 percent
lower fuel-consumption per seat than the MD -80 – “a
substantial step for ward in environmental performance”.
Boeing also recently delivered its latest Next
Generation 737s. featuring improved-performance
engines. In July, China Southern Airlines took delivery
of the first 737-800 featuring a new CFM56-7BE engine
configuration, now standard on all new 737s.
The improved design, coupled with drag -reduction
measures, results in lower fuel consumption and
maintenance- cost savings, says the manufacturer. The
new engine is part of the 737 performance improvement
package that Boeing started testing last November, with
the aim of reducing fuel consumption by 2 percent.
Since the first Next Generation 737 was delivered in
1998, Boeing says continuous efforts have resulted in an
accumulated 5 percent gain in fuel efficiency.
Performance improvements aren’t just limited to
the 737, with a performance improvement package
for the 777 widebody twinjet improving the aircraft’s
aerodynamics, through a software change to enable a
dropped aileron, a ram- air system improvement and
improved wing-vortex generators. The changes are
incorporated into newer 777 models, but 18 airlines have
ordered the packag e for existing fleets. United Airlines is
installing it on 52 of its 777s and expects to reduce fuel
spending per aircraft by about US$200,000 annually.
Boeing also recently announced the latest stage of
its ecoDemonstrator Programme, which is aimed at
reducing fuel consumption, carbon emissions and
noise. In June, Boeing announced that American
Airlines will be the launch customer for the
programme, which will involve one of its 737-800s
being used to flight-test and accelerate the market
readiness of emerging technologies.
Technologies that will be flown on the aircraft next
year include adaptable trailing edge technology, which is
being developed under the US FAA Continuous Lower
Energ y Emissions Noise (CLEEN) programme and will
reduce noise and emissions during all phases of flight.
In addition, there is the variable-area fan nozzle, which
reduces noise and enables advanced engine efficiency
technologies. The flight-trajectory optimisation for in-
flight planning , meanwhile, enables airlines to determine
and fly more fuel-efficient routes and provides flight
crews with the ability to reroute for weather and other
The programme will also include the demonstration
of regenerative fuel cells for onboard power, which will
efficiently store and generate power and adapt to aircraft
electrical systems’ demand, potentially reducing weight,
fuel burn and CO2 emissions.
According to Boeing ecoDemonstrator Programme
Manag er David Akiyama : “Our ecoDemonstrator
flight-test programme allows us to accelerate
promising technologies and move them onto airplane
models and into new-aircraft design considerations
across the industry.”
“Our ecoDemonstrator flight-test programme allows us to
accelerate promising technologies and move them onto airplane
models.” - Boeing ecoDemonstrator Programme Manager David Akiyama
AsianAviation | OCTOBER 2011 27
American Airlines is the launch airline in
Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator programme.
30/09/11 9:33 PM
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