Lean and green

FARNBOROUGH – Some people are saying that the show has seemed leaner this year – as in, smaller crowds, less excitement. Well, I don’t know what show they’re at, because there’s lots going on, and I’ve been running nonstop since the start of the air show early Monday morning.

I’ve done television interviews with ITV, Bloomberg, France 2, and Al-Jazeera. I’ve met with dozens of analysts, investors, customers, and partners from across the industry. And by the end of the week I will have met with print reporters from China, Japan, Malaysia, Finland, Canada, the UK, U.S. and a variety of wire services, aviation trades, and Web publications.

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My media schedule began this week with a morning chat on Bloomberg Television with Rishaad Salamat.

Invariably in the interviews, reporters want to know where this industry is going at a time of surging oil prices. They also want to know where we’re going in terms of the environment and how we’re going to achieve industry goals of carbon-neutral growth.

We’re working hard on that. We’re investing significant resources to advance technologies to enable the next great leap forward. Speaking of which, here at Farnborough our exhibit is something that the techie in all of us would love.

The exhibit looks at the ways technology has been brought to bear on improving airplane efficiency, improving the air transportation system, and what we’re doing in terms of second and third generation biofuels. Biofuels are the only fuel type where the source (a plant) absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere - helping to offset the emissions produced when they are consumed, and moving us closer to carbon neutrality.

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Boeing’s Farnborough exhibit is focused on the technological innovations that can potentially help aviation be more sustainable - from biofuels and other renewable energy sources, to designing new noise-reducing technologies and optimizing air traffic system efficiency. It also highlights some of the products and technologies that have made aviation quieter and more fuel-efficient over the decades.

Our exhibit also shares interesting things going on in propulsion. Engines are a very important part of achieving new efficiencies. We’re looking at noise reduction to design quieter aircraft. The roar of a jetliner is increasingly a thing of the past because Boeing has been designing aircraft with noise-reducing innovations for decades, making each new airplane quieter than its predecessor.

In terms of air traffic system efficiency, did you know that reducing every flight by one minute would prevent 4.8 million tons of CO2 emissions a year? System congestion and delays waste fuel and increase emissions. Creating a next-generation air traffic system is key. In fact Boeing and Airbus recently signed an agreement to work together to ensure global interoperability in air traffic management as part of this effort to help reduce the impact of aviation on the environment.

And as we mentioned last week in our Current Market Outlook, by 2027, 82% of the world’s fleet will consist of new, more fuel-efficient airplanes.

So, we as an industry are making progress on the environmental front, improving fuel efficiency, reducing emissions, and having airplanes become quieter and better neighbors. But it’s clear we have work to do to find a pathway to sustainable long-term growth – and that future will be unlocked by technology.

And with that .. it’s back to the excitement, to the challenges, and to the surprises every air show always brings - even a leaner and greener one!

Comments (5)

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

The statement that there would be a smaller crowd, smaller orders, and less variety and enthusiasm is the streak of pessimism and most likely a lack of knowledge of the industry, this reminds me of all the stories that Las Vegas was slumping in tourism and they would be a lot of hotel vacancy's, believing in that, I went to Vegas last week and I found out that even before I got to Vegas as soon as I was in the Cajun Pass I found out that tourism has not slumped.

Vegas was doing very well post holiday, and is still plenty of activity going on in the civil aviation sector. I don't think 100 737's in the first hours, 35 787-9's, 10 777-300ER's (Boeing.com), and the launch of the Bombardier C- series plus 30 + 30 orders is considered slow and slumpy.

I am glad to know Boeing is doing all that they can to reduce CO2 emissions, the people who will benefit the most from the advances of CO2 reduction are the people who live and work near the airports. Companies like Boeing and other companies involved in building and powering transportation can and have lead the way in reducing harmful emissions and can do a better job that the governments dismal emission standards. We just proved companies can be green AND profitable.

Paulo M (Johannesburg, RSA):

Great progressive displays there - nice way to celebrate a birthday.

Neil D (Everett, WA):

With oil price pushing throught the roof, and global warming, every drop of oil saving makes sense. I hope that Boeing will take the lead in promoting landing gear system 'autonomous taxiing' on ground (without relying on engine thrust). Airport neighbors would love that too.

Tony Everitt (Fiji):

Thanks for the coverage Randy. For those of us on remote Pacific Islands it can`t be soon enough to see those more fuel efficient aircraft. See Tony`s Blog posts `Putting Out Fire With Gasoline` and `The Black Stuff` at www.south-pacific.travel/blog for more.

Tim (Maryland):

I can see you had a great time at the Farnborough Aviation Expo.

I was wondering, and I hope this is not a dumb question.
Has either Boeing or Airbus tested not only bio-fuels, but, conduct a test using Flex fuels ? can it be done ?
For example, in the most critical stage of flight, taking off and until cruising altitude, use regular aviation fuel for the power you need, and once you get to cruising altitude, switch to a bio fuel.
I know, I know, some will say, it's to costly and complicated to have to separate fuels in the tanks on a airplane.
Until bio-fuels are " Proven " .... would it be a better idea to use the flex fuel approach until bio fuels are proven and accepted ?

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