Airbus: making the blue skies green

Author:James Nurton
Position:Freelance writer

Find out what Airbus, the world’s biggest aircraft manufacturer, is doing to tackle climate change


Airbus, the world’s biggest aircraft manufacturer, is developing a variety of initiatives to tackle climate change. The results will not just benefit the aviation industry, but other sectors too.

In February 2020, Airbus revealed MAVERIC (Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls); its “blended wing body” scale model technological demonstrator. Its disruptive design has the potential to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent compared to current single-aisle aircraft. (Photo: Courtesy of Airbus)

Tackling climate change has become a priority for the aviation industry worldwide. It is estimated that aviation currently accounts for up to 3 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, but with air travel expected to double every 15 to 20 years, action needs to be taken now to make future air travel more environmentally friendly.

The aviation industry is complex, with many private and public sector participants, including commercial airlines, private jet operators and government agencies, as well as manufacturers and suppliers of aircraft, engines, parts and associated infrastructure.

The intellectual property system promotes innovation and the development of new technology. Firstly, by protecting the investment in green innovation, for example, through patents, which give exclusive rights to the inventor. Secondly, by enabling the dissemination of technology assets through licensing, patent publication, joint R&D and other forms of collaboration.

Carsten Sprenger, Senior Legal Counsel, Airbus

This means that licensing and technology transfer have an important role to play in ensuring that the benefits of innovations to tackle climate change are shared across the industry. Many of these innovations have applications beyond the aviation industry and through effective use of intellectual property (IP) rights, can be licensed to other companies in completely different fields.

The Airbus AlbatrossOne demonstrator, inspired by the legendary albatross sea bird – which can soar kilometers without flapping its wings – is the first aircraft to trial in-flight, freely flapping wing-tips. With this it can reduce drag, combat the effects of turbulence and wind gusts and make for lighter aircraft in the future. (Photo: Courtesy of Airbus)

As the world’s biggest aircraft manufacturer, producing both civil and military aircraft worldwide, Airbus is leading the way in helping the industry develop and commercialize new technologies that support its environmental goals. As the company states on its website: “The future of flight is electric, autonomous and zero-emission. At Airbus, we believe innovation can contribute to a more sustainable world. By taking an unconventional approach to the challenges of today, we can build the sustainable aviation of tomorrow.”

The company has already contributed to progress in reducing the noise and emissions produced by recent models of aircraft. For example, the A350 XWB offers a 25 percent reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions compared to previous generations of aircraft. Similarly, the A330neo brings a 25 percent advantage in fuel burn per seat compared to previous aircraft in the same class.

Airbus is leveraging emerging technologies to pioneer the future of flight. By testing disruptive aircraft configurations, Airbus is able to evaluate their potential as viable future products.


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