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Airbus Innovation in Eco Efficiency

Essay by   •  August 7, 2011  •  Case Study  •  1,862 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,759 Views

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In the world today, aviation is the fastest and safest way to travel around the world. Because of this, the aviation industry is striving hard to make air travel eco-efficient. Leading the way in this endeavor is Airbus. Airbus is committed to a pro active approach in making their manufacturing plants and their airplanes eco efficient. The company continuously makes progress in the reduction of air and noise pollution as well as looking for alternative fuel sources to reduce the use fuel and energy. Designing airplanes that will have less impact on the environment in the future is one of Airbus' goals in their research and development department. This also means that they are targeting to manufacture airplanes that have less CO2 emissions. Airbus is also involved in improving the air traffic management systems and the overall operations of the aviation business.

Eco Efficiency Life Cycle Approach

Airbus is conscious of the importance of equilibrium in nature that's why they are very careful in trying to keep it that way. Airbus is fully committed in making as little impact on nature as possible. New technology is being researched to be able to make sustainable products at the same giving more value to the company and service to the people. Airbus uses eco efficient solutions at every stage of the life cycle of their aircraft from design up to retirement. Airbus is the only aeronautical company that has received the ISO 14001 environmental certification for all their 16 production sites as well as their airlines products all throughout their life cycle. This is a first in the aviation business and Airbus is doing their best to take into consideration the impact in the environment in their entire decision making. Some of the innovations that Airbus has pioneered in is using greener fuel, chemical-free milling process for the production of the fuselage panels, more environmentally friendly painting process and steps to minimize energy and water consumption during the production process.


Airbus' research and technology main thrust is to investigate, test and validate and optimize the most advance technologies, design features, configurations and architectures. This would lead them to make more eco efficient airplanes. Airbus is launching the Dassault Systemes' product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions to help support its 3D design process for a new eco-efficient aircraft. The Dassault Systemes' will be used to design the new A350 which is focused on designing a family of new generation aircraft that is more suited to the changing market in terms of comfort, size and the impact on the environment. The new planes are being designed for improved fuel efficiency, reduced emissions and lower noise levels during departure, cruise and arrival.

Airbus will play a leading role in the Joint Technology Initiative "Clean Sky". The purpose of Clean Sky is to demonstrate and validate new technologies in large scale and realistic flight demonstrations. "Clean Sky" is an industry driven technological research program which aims to reduce fuel consumption, noise and emissions for future aircrafts.

Fuel Cell

A fuel cell is a device which transforms the energy contained in hydrogen into electricity. Airbus claims that the fuel cells will make the aircraft lighter because less fuel will be needed for the aircraft. Plain water is the resulting product from the fuel cells which could be also used the aircrafts water system which would also make the aircraft lighter still.


Biomimicry is the imitation of nature. This is where engineers in Airbus get their inspiration for the design of their aircrafts. New innovations in technology have helped reduce fuel burn emissions by 70 percent and noise by 75 percent in the last 40 years. The aviation business contributes 2 percent of the total emissions of man-made CO2. Airbus wants to reduce these emissions further and they are looking to nature for answers. An example of this is the "lotus effect". This is when the lotus leaves keeps dry and clean in damp and humid conditions because the rainwater just runs off it taking with it the dirt. This kind of technology can be used in cabin fittings that can improve hygiene and save water. Engineers also learned from the Steppe Eagle which is a bird of prey that is native to Europe and Central Asia. They found out that the eagle can manipulate its feathers at the wingtips, curling them to create a winglet that aids in high efficiency in flight.

Supply Chain

Airbus has thousands of parts and components that they need for their production and manufacturing. This means that they have a lot of suppliers for the different parts that they need. Each of these suppliers has to comply with Airbus' environmental policy, provide reliable environmental data on products delivered and develop and implement an EMS.


Airbus is always looking into ways to reduce or eliminate pollutants that can harm the environment. With this in mind, Airbus has set goals to improve their performance in the manufacturing of their aircrafts. The goals are a 30 % reduction in energy consumption, 50% reduction in CO2 emissions, 50% reduction in solvent emissions, 50% reduction in water consumption, 80% reduction in water discharge and 50% reduction in waste production.

Airbus has a technologically innovative painting process that is friendly for the environment. The technique is the "base coat clear coat" livery painting method. The previous methods requires the aircraft to be painted with 6 coats of paint whereas the "base coat clear coat" only needs one thick layer of paint and a layer of varnish or clear coat for protection. This method would dramatically reduce the impact painting has on the environment. Airbus has reduced the use of solvents by 90 percent, and the quantity of harmful chromate dust generated by the polishing of primer paint will be greatly decreased by new practices as part of the company's chromate free program--which aims to progressively replace the most hazardous substances and processes in Airbus aircraft manufacturing process.





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