Air New Zealand first to benefit from new Airbus and Boeing environmental and fuel-saving initiatives
Applying chrome-free primer to the Air New Zealand 777-300ER (photo: Boeing)
Fri 9 Dec 2012 – The two aircraft manufacturers have each recently carried out initiatives to improve the environmental and fuel-saving capabilities of new aircraft coming into service. Airbus has performed a first flight test of the Sharklet wingtip devices that will replace the current wingtip fence of the Airbus A320 Family. Offered as an option on new-build aircraft, Sharklet-fitted aircraft could reduce fuel burn by up to 3.5%, corresponding to an annual CO2 reduction of 700 tonnes per aircraft through enhanced performance. Boeing’s 777 programme is implementing 10 actions aimed at eliminating 5.5 million pounds (2,500 tonnes) and 300,000 gallons (1.1m litres) of jet fuel used during the 777 delivery process. Air New Zealand is the Sharklet launch customer and is also participating in the Boeing initiatives.
The flight test of the Sharklet-fitted Airbus A320 test aircraft is an important step towards certification and performance validation. The wingtip devices are around 2.5 metres tall and produced primarily with lightweight carbon fibre composites.
They will be fitted as standard on the new engine option A320neo Family and contribute together with the next generation engines to a 15% overall fuel savings claimed by Airbus. One year after launching the re-engined neo, Airbus says it has 1,500 orders and commitments from 26 customers for the aircraft.
“The hunt is underway for Airbus to take another bite out of airlines’ fuel bills and CO2,” said John Leahy, Airbus COO Customers. “With this start of Sharklet flight testing, actions speak louder than words as we take another definitive step towards greener aviation.”
The launch customer for the Sharklet is Air New Zealand, which expects to take delivery of A320 aircraft fitted with the new devices starting at the end of 2012.
The airline is also participating in the Boeing 777 environmental programme and will be the first to implement all 10 environmental actions.
“We have a wide range of environmental initiatives under way across the business,” said Air New Zealand Technical Manager, Duncan Mairs, who is currently based in Seattle overseeing 777-300ER deliveries during the programme, the first of which took place on November 7.
During the 20-day paint and delivery process of the new aircraft, Boeing workers incorporated new processes including reducing the number of times potable water and hydraulic filters are changed, using chromate-free primer in the painting process, and enhancing recycling and use of electric carts instead of gas-powered vehicles.
The chrome-free primer used on the Air New Zealand aircraft helps to reduce the environmental impact of the paint and also the potential health and safety risks during painting, says Boeing. It also eliminates the need for special handling of paint waste and clean-up, and designated off-site disposal areas. These advantages also provide benefit when the airplane is prepared for repainting.
A Boeing team has also identified redundant activities that take place during aircraft testing. “One idea was to eliminate engine-run tests already performed by the 777 engine manufacturer GE,” said Jeff Klemann, Vice President, Everett Delivery Center. “This will result in a reduction of 1.4 million pounds (635 tonnes) of CO2 in 2012, as well as less community noise and emissions.”
The team has also improved flight planning efficiency for pre-delivery test flights, resulting in lower fuel loads and improved fuel economy. Flight times have also been reduced by more careful pre-flight planning. Combined, the flight-planning initiatives will save a total of 193,155 gallons of jet fuel annually, says Boeing.
Nine of the initiatives are now implemented on all 777 airplanes delivered. The use of chrome-free primer is optional although Air New Zealand will use it on future 777-300ER deliveries.
“Being able to find ways to lessen the environmental impact of building an airplane is another excellent step on our journey to becoming the world’s most environmentally sustainable airline,” said Mairs.