ecoJet could cut CO2 emissions by half

Low cost carrier easyJet has responded to environmental pressures by unveiling a new 'ecoJet' claiming it will cut CO2 emissions by 50% when built and ready to fly.

Chief executive Andy Harrison said the technology to build the aircraft exists, and that the company is talking with manufacturers about delivery by 2015.

“This is realistic and it is achievable. The aircraft will incorporate the latest research by airframe and engine manufacturers around the world – all of which can be incorporated into an aircraft that should be in operation by 2015,” Harrison said.

“The projection for the 50% CO2 reduction is based on the findings from the latest research by the industry leaders and will come from the engines (25%), the lightweight airframe (15%) and from improvements to air traffic control technology and design (10%).”

Lower cruise speeds, lighter materials and rear-mounted “open-rotors” for shorter haul flights are some of the features easyJet says will help improve fuel efficiency and cut pollution, reducing carbon emissions by 50% and nitrogen compounds by 75%.

The aviation industry, which accounts for about 2 percent of the world’s carbon emissions, continues to face increasing pressure from environmentalists and campaigners. In the race to raise profile with ‘green’ credentials, airlines are attempting to use more eco-friendly strategies.

Airlines such as British Airways offer customers the chance to offset their carbon footprint by donating money to environmental projects, while leading low-cost airline Ryanair says its fleet of Boeing 737-800s have already reduced carbon emissions and fuel consumption by 50% since 2000.

Richard Branson has previously said that Virgin will be carrying out test flights with biofuel next year. Although not yet ready for the public, tests are underway for safety and viability. Branson has also pledged to take all profits from Virgin’s transportation businesses and channel into developing cleaner, greener fuels, engines and renewable energy sources.

Dana Gornitzki

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