Flight CO2 Emissions Halved

October 13, 2011 — Air France and Airbus have completed the world’s greenest commercial flight by combining the latest fuel and air traffic management technologies. The flight from Toulouse-Blagnac to Paris-Orly using an Airbus A321 has been able to demonstrate the cutting in half of CO2 emitted compared to a regular flight.

The (AF6129) commercial flight combined for the first time the use of bio-fuels (50 per cent in each engine), optimised air traffic management (ATM) and efficient Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) to minimise CO2 emissions.

Combining these technologies helped half the overall CO2 emissions to 54 grams per passenger and kilometre. This is equivalent to a fuel efficiency of 2.2 litres of fuel per passenger and 100 Kilometres.

“We are proud of the success achieved by this innovative project, which is a synthesis of our many initiatives in the area of sustainable development. This fully-optimised green flight is another proof of Air France’s commitment to combine air transport growth with controlled CO2 emissions.” said Bertrand Lebel, Air France Executive Vice President Organisation and Corporate Social Responsability.

“This flight is the perfect example of Airbus global approach towards continuously reducing aviation’s CO2 footprint” said Andrea Debbane, Airbus Head Environmental Affairs. “This is not just a bio-fuel flight but the first flight that really puts into practice elements in the Airbus roadmap: bio-fuels, optimised ATM, green navigation.”

Bio-fuel is one solution for reducing overall CO2 emissions. Airbus’ alternative fuel strategy is to speed up its commercialisation through sustainable bio-fuel value chains. Thanks to several test flights and collaboration with the fuels standards bodies (ASTM and DefStan), today the use of 50 per cent bio-fuel blends are authorised in commercial flights.

A more efficient ATM system could also help reduce the amount of fuel burned by aircraft and therefore the CO2 emitted. Airbus strongly supports the streamlining of ATM and has launched a new subsidiary company, called “Airbus ProSky”, dedicated to the development and support of modern air traffic management (ATM) systems to achieve the highest operational efficiencies with more direct routings resulting in around 10 percent less aircraft fuel consumption, as well as significant reductions in CO2 and noise emissions.

CDA is becoming more widespread as a way to reduce fuel burn. During a CDA procedure, the aircraft descends continuously, avoiding level flight prior to the final approach and requires significantly less engine thrust and therefore less fuel burn.