Airbus Mission To Decarbonise Air Travel

Airbus has long been an advocate of using cleaner fuel in the aviation industry. During April the company was set to trial a jet run by hybrid electric engines but the plan was stopped early by the COVID crisis. With many airlines facing economic damage and a cut in employees the French government have introduced a plan to safeguard the aviation industry and have already provided €15bn to the sector.[1] As part of the deal the government wants to see more environmentally friendly jets being created. Biofuels and hydrogen are the current consideration but companies like Airbus are also looking into electric powered flights. The government’s goal is to have a fully carbon-neutral aircraft by 2035 alongside an electric powered jet by 2029.

CEO Guillaume Faury responded positively to the scheme and is set to deploy new technologies to meet the goal. Insisting that Airbus is, “committed to developing sustainable flight,”[2] Faury sees hydrogen as one of the most viable options for the company to work with. Creating fleets powered entirely by biofuels, however, is not an easy task. Despite Faury’s claims that hydrogen is, “one of the most promising technologies available,”[3] there are still concerns over hydrogen’s power in aviation. Though its power to weight ratio makes it a better option than electric-power, there is concern that redesigning aircrafts for this reason will make it infeasible for long-haul flights. AN EU backed study [4] also concluded that hydrogen alone will have little impact on decarbonisation efforts unless paired with new technologies across fleets.

Air travel accounts for up to 2.4%[5] of CO2 emissions globally and though COVID 19 has caused a temporary decrease in air traffic this is likely to rise. With travel corridor exemptions being reduced more and more people are going to start travelling again. Lockdown was only a temporary respite from carbon emissions and it is only with cleaner fuel options that we can reduce these emissions consistently.

© 2020 Whitestone Chambers




[4]  Aviation-report_FINAL-web-ID-8706035.pdf



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