Find out more about the six areas we have identified by clicking on each challenge on the right
The cost of powering aircraft with jet fuel, the current source of aviation energy will rise as...
Driving down the real costs (monetary and environmental) of aviation will be achieved by...
We’ll need more aircraft to meet this extra demand and replace existing aircraft, with an...
Since the 1980s the number of flights has more than doubled allowing more people around the world to...
The cost of powering those aircraft with jet fuel, the current source of aviation energy, will rise as reserves reduce. Fuel is currently 25% or more of an airline’s operating cost and we can now fly almost twice as far on each kilo of fuel than 40 years ago. However, we’re now flying ten times further than we were in the ‘70s.
- Jet fuel is the current source of aviation energy. As reserves reduce, prices will rise. Although air travel is much more fuel efficient than 40 year ago (we can now fly almost twice as far on each kilo of fuel), we are also now flying 10 times further than in the 1970’s, so our overall level of consumption has increased.
- Fuel is currently 25% or more of an airline’s operating cost. But prices are volatile and subject to external pressures – for example, political uncertainties in oil-producing nations.
- Reducing our reliance on fossil fuel will be positive for the environment as well ultimately reduce cost to the customer.
Recent Airbus Innovations
The Electric Plane - the Airbus E-FAN
This is a small experimental aircraft powered entirely by electricity. Its current maximum flying time is around 30 minutes, which we hope extend to over an hour by DATE. Next, we want to expand the E-FAN into a 4 seater aircraft, using a hybrid system, with the eventual aim of expanding electric power into wider commercial flight, and so reduce the sector's jet fuel use.
But here’s the conundrum. The A380 has a wingspan of 262 feet and can theoretically carry up to 853 people, but the diminutive E-Fan 2.0 has a wingspan of just 31 feet and carries 2 passengers.
Airbus Future Concepts
Sustainable aviation fuels produced from renewable resources can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80% per tonne of fuel. Finding sustainable fuels that can be produced in commercial quantities (without competing with food crops and water supplies) is the only medium-term alternative to fossil fuels in order to power large commercial jetliners.
Alternative fuels have powered around 1,500 commercial flights to date. We believe that up to a third of aviation fuel could come from alternative sources by 2030.
A fuel cell transforms chemical energy from a fuel (such as hydrogen) into electricity through a chemical reaction with oxygen, or another oxidizing agent. The only waste is water, heat and oxygen-depleted air, which would contribute to reductions in emissions and noise when applied aboard an airliner.
Water produced from this process also can be used by the aircraft’s water and waste systems, so reducing the amount of water an aircraft needs on board. Reducing weight will also decrease fuel consumption and emissions.
As far back as 2008, Airbus, DLR and Michelin performed flight evaluations of a fuel cell emergency power system on a test bed A320. The fuel cell was installed on a cargo pallet and produced 25 kW of electrical power – operating the electric motor pump for the aircraft’s back-up hydraulic circuit, and controlling the spoilers, ailerons and elevator actuator.
OVER TO YOU
How will your idea accelerate one of these initiatives into commercial development? Or perhaps you’ve got another way of solving the energy challenge for us to explore?
We’ll need more
aircraft to meet this extra demand and replace existing aircraft, with an
operating life of 20 to 30 years, with more fuel efficient variants. This means
affordable growth is essential - by lowering the cost of
manufacturing and increasing reliability and efficiency of passenger aircraft.
Since the 1980s the number of flights has more than doubled, allowing more people around the world to enjoy the benefits of air transport. People want to fly and people want to fly more. As economies grow and people get wealthier, we predict that traffic growth will continue to double in the next 15 years, making the skies extremely busy and taking airports to maximum capacity.
Passengers want safety and efficiency with comfort and entertainment on board - but the passenger experience begins before you fly. On short haul flights, the time spent on check-in and boarding alone can frustratingly take longer than the flight itself, and this doesn’t include and time spent on baggage management.
As airports have grown, so too have the communities around them. They benefit from the jobs and commerce that are drawn to airports, but at times also suffer from increases to airport operations. Reducing noise, air pollution and local traffic congestion means community friendliness has to be considered, especially as capacity around the world increases.