If aviation were a country, it would have the 21st biggest economy worldwide*. Yet according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, aviation generates approximately 2% of carbon dioxide emissions, as well as other greenhouse gases**. Progressive technological developments have reduced aviation’s fuel burn per seat by 70% over the past 40 years, with a parallel fall in emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas. Clearly for air transport to grow sustainably, the steady fall in greenhouse gas emissions achieved since the inception of commercial aviation needs to be further increased. There have also been similar improvements in noise. Aircraft entering into service now are typically 20 decibels quieter than comparable products 40 years ago. EADS is leading the way towards accelerating the reduction of the impacts of aviation, in particular reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the impact of these gases. We manage the environmental impact of products across the whole of their lifecycles – from cradle to grave.
**80% of aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions relate to passenger flights exceeding 1,500 kilometres (900 miles), for which there is no practical alternative. Carbon dioxide data released in 2007 by IPCC, relating to 2000.
Research & Technology
EADS is developing breakthrough technologies that will enable the aviation sector to meet its targets for reducing noise and emissions. From 2020, the sector aims to stabilise carbon emissions and, from 2050, it aspires to cut net carbon dioxide emissions by half (versus 2005 levels). We are also participating in a project designed to measure some of the other impacts that can influence climate change, called MOZAIC (Measurements of OZone, water vapour, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides by in-service AIrbus airCraft). By fitting A340 long-range aircraft with special sensors, MOZAIC measures the chemical composition of the atmosphere in order to provide a better climate forecast. To develop the breakthrough technologies needed, several EADS Divisions are participating in the European Union-funded Clean Sky Joint Technology Initiative (JTI). The JTI is working to meet the research targets of the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE). By 2020, ACARE aims to show how carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 50% and nitrogen oxide by 80%, as well as how noise levels can be reduced by 50%, all relative to 2000 levels. Across EADS, research and development resources are being focused on green technologies. As much as 80% of the research and technology budgets in the Airbus and Eurocopter Divisions are now devoted to finding ways to increase eco-efficiency and reduce pollution. Within the operational phase of an aircraft’s life, greater fuel efficiency is currently the most important variable. Fuel consumption per passenger kilometre is falling significantly – for example, the A380 has a fuel burn of three litres per passenger per 100 kilometres, the lowest of any commercial aircraft in service. The A350 XWB long-range aircraft aims to reduce fuel consumption even more. Highlighting its intention of making the most environmentally friendly helicopters, Eurocopter unveiled its Bluecopter demonstrator at the June 2009 Paris Le Bourget Air Show. This showcased technologies including a fuel-efficient, low-emission propulsion system, which can be introduced across Eurocopter’s products.
A lifecycle-oriented approach takes into account all stages of the life of a product or service, from cradle to grave – in other words, from the design of the product to the end of its lifetime. Our main target is to design or identify 'true' environmentally-friendly solutions, which avoid pollution transfers from one stage of the lifecycle to the other or from one medium to the other (e.g. air to water or soil).