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Airbus "Goes Green"


Airbus says the A380 can fly more passengers further and more fuel-efficiently than any previous jet, resulting in lower carbon dioxide emissions per passenger.

Airbus chief commercial officer John Leahy announced at the Paris Air Show this week that the company is "Saving the planet, one A380 at a time."

Airbus says the A380 can fly more passengers further and more fuel-efficiently than any previous jet, resulting in lower carbon dioxide emissions per passenger.

According to their figures, the A380 burns 17% less fuel per seat than an aircraft of equivalent size and produces only 75g of CO2 per passenger/kilometer.

No matter how you slice it, the jet engine is the most effective way to convert energy from fuel into thrust, at about 37% efficient. Gasoline engines are roughly 25% efficient, and a well-tuned diesel is approximately 32% efficient.

However, the A380 won't have nearly the lowest CO2 emissions and fuel consumption per passenger if it is not full. DOT statistics show that 76% of seats are occupied on an average flight.

The A380 can seat 850 people if configured as a single-class aircraft, working out to 95 mpg per passenger. In the real world, no airline will be flying an all-economy A380.

Singapore Airlines is using a 450 seat configuration.

Richard Branson will be installing double bedrooms, bars, beauty salons and casinos in the Upper Class cabins of his Virgin Atlantic A380s.

And the "unnamed buyer" of a $300 million personal A380 (plus another $150 million for an interior by designer Edése Doret which will include two dining halls, a 600 square-foot master bedroom, game room, lounge with giant curtains that will mimic tents of the Arabian desert, a fiber-optic mosaic that will depict a shifting desert scene, a whirlpool tub, and a missile defense system) will accommodate a total of 82 passengers-far from an all-economy set-up.

Lousy fuel economy, but it sure beats walking…

Then, there are the unforeseen events, like an economic downturn that leaves people with fewer discretionary dollars to spend on travel or another SARS scare, which would surely reduce the number of passengers on each flight, further driving up CO2 emissions.

Will the happy couple be flying to their honeymoon?

Airbus certainly wasn't the only company trumpeting its "greenness" at the Paris Air Show.

CFM, a joint venture of General Electric (GE) and Safran SA of France, handed out promotional DVDs whose cases read: "Caring for the environment."

DVD cases are made from plastic.

And plastics are made from petroleum.


According to the Environmental Literacy Council, plastics account for 9% to 13% of all waste in landfills. And, plastic doesn't degrade in the environment; instead it tends to accumulate, creating long-term environmental problems.

Plastic is only recycled at about a 5% rate nationwide, according to the California Integrated Waste Management Board. And, due in part to increased plastic use, glass container plants around the country have been closing, causing workers to lose their jobs.

Google (GOOG) is also jumping on the environmental-consciousness bandwagon, unveiling a modified Toyota (TM) Prius last week that can be charged directly from the electrical grid, and, when not in use, the stored electricity can be sold back to the utility company.

The company says that the power from the grid will be more efficient, and less damaging than the oil that would otherwise be burned by the gasoline engine.

Now, all Sergey Brin and Larry Page have to do is figure out how to make their new 767-200, built for 180 passengers but reconfigured to hold 50, run on batteries.

Editor's Note: Don't miss Vitaliy's great article: Fly, Don't Buy Airlines.
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