The record-breaking order of the A320neo offers 15 percent more fuel-efficiency. Image courtesy of Airbus.
An Indian low-cost airline, IndiGo, has been the first buyer of 150 Airbus A320neo fuel-efficient jets, not only expanding its currently modest 34-plane fleet but also marking the single largest order in commercial aviation history. Airbus claims the plane is a more environmentally-friendly version of its popular A320, reducing fuel consumption by an estimated 15 percent, and allowing IndiGo to maintain discount fares. Though the improvement doesn't seem like significantly greener air travel, especially considering the number of new jets in the air, it's a start. Will the demand make other manufacturers compete?Electric, Solar, Fuel-cell, Biofuels or Turbo?
While there's research into electric planes, fuel cell and solar planes, some commercial airlines are greener than others, testing biofuels and pursuing various emission conservation strategies, such as simply slowing down, reducing loads, changing routes, and adjusting landings to save fuel.
In the meantime, Airbus is "re-engining" their popular jet featuring an advanced turbo fan engine for a more cost-effective fuel-efficient plane. Keeping R&D; costs to a minimum ($1 billion), the body of the aircraft remains virtually the same with few design changes, besides wingtip devices called "sharklets," which reduce drag.
Due for take-off in 2016, the NEO (New Engine Option Airbus) fuel savings is the equivalent of 1.4 million liters of fuel (or 1000 family cars' used annually) per aircraft, which supposedly will reduce up to 3,600 ton of carbon dioxide per year, or what 240,000 mature trees would absorb, according to Airbus. The company also plans to build an even more efficient short-haul aircraft over the next 15 years.
Fuel-burn cash-cost comparison from an Airbus product development study. Image via Airbus.
According to the Centre for Asia Pacific aviation, India's domestic air traffic grew more than 19 percent last year, with 4.9 million passengers flying in November. As the world's fleets and air travel increases, CO2 levels also take flight. If it's this easy to switch to more fuel-efficient planes, what's the hold-up with other airlines retrofitting? Per the Financial Times, Boeing didn't "see a compelling reason to do it" Since this deal indicates it's profitable, perhaps they'll tweak their engines now.
Source: AFP's RelaxNews
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