When it comes to sustainability and greener skies, Airbus puts its money where its mouth is – and recently transitioned from the German Stock Exchange’s MDAX to its new DAX40 premium index, testimony to its industrial significance. Showcasing its “Wing of Tomorrow”, and a number of sustainability initiatives, the recent Airbus Summit 21-22SEP21 demonstrated its clear drive towards a cleaner future.
Over at Airbus’ Filton site in England, the first prototype sub-assembly of Airbus’ ‘eco wing’ known as the “Wing of Tomorrow”, has begun, using parts manufactured across the country. Part-funded by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute, the transnational Airbus program involving global partners and teams across Airbus’ European sites, looks to combine over 100 new technologies and composite materials, to improve aerodynamics and wing architecture as well as wing manufacturing, and ultimately result in more sustainable aviation and production. Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer, said: “Wing of Tomorrow, a crucial part of Airbus’ R&T portfolio, will help us assess the industrial feasibility of future wing production. High-performing wing technology is one of several solutions - alongside sustainable aviation fuels and hydrogen - we can implement to contribute to aviation’s decarbonization ambition. Wing of Tomorrow is also an example of how large-scale industry collaboration will be critical to achieving our sector’s agenda for a more sustainable future.”
Wings of… change
“Three full-size prototype wings will be manufactured in total: one will be used to understand systems integration; a second will be structurally tested to compare against computer modelling, while a third will be assembled to test scaling-up production and compare against industrial modelling,” the press release explains. Along similar lines, the company also launched an “extra-performing wing demonstrator project focused on accelerating and validating technologies that will improve and optimize wing aerodynamics and performance for any future aircraft,” which it is using on a Cessna Citation VII business jet to gauge best parameters for flight efficiency, thus enabling CO₂ emissions reduction.
SAF and SAF capable
Airbus announced that, from NOV21, following an agreement with Signature Flight Support to supply SAF to its Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Alabama, it would begin delivering all A220 and A320 family aircraft from there to its U.S.-based customers, with a blend of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and conventional jet fuel on board as part of its commitment to carbon-neutral growth in the aviation sector. “Delivering our Mobile-produced aircraft with SAF is an important, iterative step toward solving the carbon challenge,” Jeff Knittel, Chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas, Inc, underlined. “SAF is a positive contributor to enhanced sustainability in aviation since it enables up to an 80% reduction of CO₂ across the fuel lifecycle. We are committed to making sustainable fuels an everyday reality with use on an increasingly larger scale, and this announcement is further evidence of that.”
Meanwhile, over in LATAM…
The biggest Airbus fleet upgrade to include the fuel-saving “Descent Profile Optimization” (DPO) function to the aircraft’s on-board Flight Management System (FMS) performance database, is soon underway at LATAM Airlines. More than 200 of its A320 family fleet will be kitted out with the DPO performance software between the end of 2021 and early 2022. “The DPO function allows aircraft to descend from cruise altitude using only idle engine thrust, which reduces fuel consumption, bringing proportional CO2 and NOx (nitrogen oxide emissions) reductions,” and optimizes the time spent at efficient cruise level, along with the overall flight trajectory in cooperation with Air Traffic Control, enabling fuel savings of more than 100 tons per year per aircraft across the LATAM network, and reducing CO₂ emissions by over 300 tons per year per aircraft.
Hyping up the Hydrogen
Together with Air Liquide and VINCI Airports, Airbus is pushing for the use of hydrogen at airports and developing a European airport network to accommodate future hydrogen aircrafts. Lyon-Saint Exupéry (France) Airport, VINCI Airports' center of excellence for innovation, has been selected as the pilot airport by the three partners, and is planned to host the first installations as early as 2023, bringing the decarbonization of air travel another step closer. The multiphase project includes the deployment of a hydrogen gas distribution station at Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport from 2023, to supply the airport's ground vehicles (buses, trucks, handling equipment, etc.), those of its partners, as well as local heavy goods vehicles, testing the airport's facilities and dynamics as a "hydrogen hub". Between 2023 and 2030 the plan is to develop the liquid hydrogen infrastructures required to fuel future aircraft, with a view to mass distribution of liquid hydrogen at the airport beyond 2030, and then looking to equip all 45 of VINCI’s airports in 12 countries, with the hydrogen production, storage and supply facilities needed for use on the ground and on board aircraft.
The flight of the ALBATROSS
ALBATROSS is a Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU), EU-funded initiative launched in FEB21, involving Airbus, Air France, Austro Control, DLR, DSNA, Eurocontrol, LFV, Lufthansa, Novair, Schiphol, Smart Airport Systems, SWEDAVIA, SWISS, Thales AVS France and WIZZ AIR UK, aiming to develop the “most energy efficient flights”. ALBATROSS looks at every stage of the flight from approach procedures, climb and descent, management of necessary airspace constraints, taxiing, and fueling (SAF usage), and involves all relevant stakeholder groups (airlines, ANSPs, network managers, airports, and industry). Research and development will be carried out on a series of around 1,000 demonstration flights to determine the most sustainable approaches in all operational and technological aspects of aviation and Air Traffic Management (ATM), with initial results expected in 2022. The first of these flights was carried out by Airbus, Air France and DSNA, the French Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), flying an optimized trajectory (to enable a reduction in CO₂ emissions) from Paris to Toulouse Blagnac, on the day of the Airbus Summit event, 21SEP21.
Since 2000, Airbus shares are traded at three European stock exchanges: in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, and Valencia), in France (fixed component of the premium CAC40 index, Paris), and in Frankfurt, Germany. On 20SEP21, Airbus transitioned from the German MDAX, becoming a member of the new DAX40 index as the Deutsche Börse completed the expansion of the DAX from 30 to 40 companies as part of a comprehensive reform process.
Commenting on the appointment to the new, premium index, Guillaume Faury, Airbus Chief Executive Officer, stated: “We are very pleased to be appointed to the newly formed DAX. We believe that Airbus has found its place in this index due to its economic size and performance. This inclusion allows us to better represent Airbus' historic industrial significance in Germany and highlight our innovative and diverse portfolio of activities too. The inclusion in Germany's most important stock market index is both a motivation and a responsibility to continue our strong strategic presence in the country. We are proud of our European roots."
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