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Airbus proposes steeper climbs and shorter runways
Published: 08/09/2012 RSS
Airbus' latest instalment on the future of flying shifts the focus from design to operations.
Among the plans on the table are steeper climbs to minimise noise and achieve quicker cruise altitude efficiencies. As urban space becomes more of a premium, particularly in mega-cities, this approach could also minimise land use with aircraft operating on shorter runways.
Technologically advanced aircraft would be able to 'self-organise' the most environmentally friendly routes, making the optimum use of prevailing weather and atmospheric conditions, while high frequency routes would also allow aircraft to benefit from flying in formation like birds during cruise - bringing efficiency improvements due to drag reduction and lower energy use.
Aircraft would be allowed to take free glide approaches into airports that reduce emissions during the overall decent and reduce noise during the steeper approach as there is no need for engine thrust or air breaking. These approaches would also reduce the landing speed earlier which would make shorter landing distances achievable with less runway needed.
On landing, aircraft engines could be switched off sooner and runways cleared faster, enabling ground handling emissions to be cut. Technology could optimise an aircraft’s landing position with enough accuracy for an autonomous renewably powered taxiing carriage to be ready, so aircraft could be transported away from runways quicker, which would optimise terminal space, and remove runway and gate limitations.
The use of sustainable biofuels and other potential alternative energy sources (such as electricity, hydrogen, solar etc) will be necessary to secure supply and further reduce aviation’s environmental footprint in the long term, which will allow the extensive introduction of regionally sourced renewable energy close to airports, feeding both aircraft and infrastructure requirements sustainably.
Charles Champion, Executive Vice President Engineering at Airbus, said its engineers are continuously encouraged to think widely and come up with `disruptive’ ideas which will assist the industry in meeting 2050 sustainability targets.
"These and the other tough environmental targets will only be met by a combination of investment in smarter aircraft design and optimising the environment in which the aircraft operates," he said.
For more information, visit thefuturebyairbus.com. As part of Airbus' Future by Airbus Smarter Skies launch, the manufacturer transformed Berlin’s Humboldt-Box into a 4D lightshow, the video for which can be seen above.
Report by Dominic Ellis