The re-engined A320neo will be fitted with Sharklet wingtips (graphic: Airbus)
Wed 8 Dec 2010 – After months of speculation, Airbus announced last week that it would offer two new fuel-saving engine options to its A320 Family narrowbody aircraft. Airlines will have the choice between CFM International’s LEAP-X engine and Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1100G geared turbofan. The aircraft, to be called the A320neo, will remain similar in appearance and design to the current model but its wings will be modified and fitted with large Sharklet wingtip fuel-saving devices. The manufacturer claims potential fuel burn and carbon emissions savings of 15 percent, double-digit reduction in NOx emissions and reduced engine noise. Meanwhile, Airbus has obtained renewal of its ISO 14001 environment certification across its worldwide manufacturing sites.
With new engine advancements in the pipeline, Airbus says it is committed to providing its customers with the latest eco-efficient technologies to improve aircraft performance and airline operations while reducing environmental impact. The manufacturer claims the fuel savings of the A320neo Family represent reductions of up to 3,600 tonnes of CO2 annually per aircraft.
Deliveries of the A320neo – A319 and A321 neo versions will follow later – are due to start in spring 2016. Airbus sees a market potential of 4,000 neo Family aircraft over the next 15 years, although Airbus will continue manufacture of the existing model.
The new model will carry a price premium of around $6 million, with the cost of fitting the aircraft with the Sharklets put at $900,000. The Sharklet was launched a year ago by Airbus, with Air New Zealand as the first customer to take delivery of an A320 fitted with the wingtips scheduled for the end of 2012 (see story). Airbus claims a 3.5% fuel burn reduction for the devices.
“We are confident that the A320neo will be a great success across all markets and with all types of operators, offering them maximum benefit with minimum change,” commented Airbus President and CEO Tom Enders. “We are leveraging a reliable, mature aircraft and are making it even more efficient and environmentally friendly.”
The decision to take the re-engined route means that Airbus is now unlikely to come up with an entirely new narrowbody replacement before 2025. Partly due to the design characteristics of the 737, Boeing is not expected to follow suit with the new engine generation option but may instead proceed with a newly designed single-aisle aircraft by the end of the decade.
The A320neo will provide stiff competition for the new Bombardier CSeries aircraft, which will share the same Pratt & Whitney PurePower engine, and the new CFM International LEAP-X-powered Chinese C919 narrowbody aircraft. However, the all-composite CSeries is due to enter service in late 2013, over two years ahead of the A320neo, and Bombardier promises higher fuel burn and CO2 emissions reductions of 20%, with NOx emissions cut by 50%. Half of the CO2 reductions are expected to come from the PurePower engine and the other half from improved aerodynamics. Bombardier says the aircraft will also be four times quieter than similar current narrowbodies.
According to CFM, C919 operators can expect double-digit fuel burn improvement compared to current production CFM56 engines. Noise levels will also be cut in half and NOx levels will meet CAEP/6 requirements with a 50% margin, it says. The aircraft is due to enter service in 2016.
IATA has said airlines will collectively have to save an additional 728 million tonnes of CO2 emissions over the next 10 years if the industry is to make its 1.5% annual fuel efficiency improvement target by 2020. This is predicated on airlines spending $1.3 trillion on purchasing 12,000 new, more fuel-efficient aircraft over the decade.
Meanwhile, Airbus has obtained renewal of its ISO 14001 certification across its different sites around the world. ISO 14001 is an international accepted standard that details how to create an efficient Environmental Management System in an organization.
Airbus says in January 2007 it became the first aerospace manufacturing company to achieve ISO 14001 certification covering the activity of each step of the product life cycle, together with all its European production sites. This was extended in 2009 and 2010 to all Airbus facilities in the US and China.
The aim is to enhance eco-efficiency by managing growth and profitability while reducing the impact on the environment from everyday operations, as well as complying with environmental laws and regulations, says the company.
“For Airbus, environment is a top priority,” commented Dr Rainer Ohler, SVP Public Affairs, Communications and Environment. “The aviation industry contributes to the global effort for a greener world. ISO 14001 is now part of Airbus’ culture. We were pioneers in our sector applying this standard and we are very proud of the achievement.”
Airbus A320neo video
Airbus – Life Cycle Approach – ISO 14001 (includes video)
CFM International LEAP-X
Pratt & Whitney PurePower
Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac)
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