Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Airbus A350: World’s Greenest Passenger Plane?

Given that lithium iron phosphate battery powered jet airliners – like those proposed by Bauhaus Luftfahrt – are still decades away, is the Airbus A350 currently the greenest conventionally fueled jet powered passenger plane? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Given that it successfully flew its maiden flight without incident at 0800 GMT back in Friday, June 14, 2013 at Toulouse, France, Airbus’ latest passenger plane – and slated to compete commercially with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner – the A350 is chock full of the latest boutique high-tech aerospace design concepts all aimed at to reduce its fuel consumption. But does it truly qualify its credentials as the greenest conventionally fuelled passenger plane? 

After the various components are delivered by the Beluga cargo plane to Airbus’ main plant – i.e. the fuselage was assembled in Germany while the new fuel-efficient high-thrust engines are manufactured in the UK while the avionics in the plane’s nose are from France– the A350 is also slated to be Airbus’ headline product in the 2013 Paris Air Show. The mostly made of carbon fiber fuselage and wings which on average weigh a fifth that of steel allows the A350 to be more fuel efficient than current and competing models.  

The unique wing shape and the large titanium fan blades of the new Rolls Royce turbofan engine whose inside working temperature is half that of the surface temperature of the sun and the monocrystalline heat resistant alloy of the inner turbine blades all work in conjunction to make the Airbus A350 the most fuel efficient conventionally fuelled plane in current production. Given that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has just recently shaken up the unairworthyness of the lithium batteries of its auxiliary power unit, the Airbus A350 could well be the unopposed greenest passenger plane currently exhibited on the 2013 Paris Air Show. 

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