Airbus Summit Showcases Sustainability Status

By Bjorn Fehrm

December 7, 2022, © Leeham News was at Airbus Summit: Airbus briefed media and influences on its Sustainability progress during briefings in Toulouse and Munich last week. Here is an update on where Airbus is with its programs.

The overall impression is of tangible progress on techno brick research and development and echo systems programs like SAF production and hydrogen supply and ground infrastructure.

At the summit, key customers like Airlines, technology partners, and leasing companies were part of the panels, giving the customer perspective and the view of the passengers.

Figure 1. The test setup of the Airbus fuel cell turboprop engine on its A380 test aircraft. Source: Airbus.

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HOTR: United likely can cancel A350 order with little penalty

By the Leeham News Team

Dec. 5, 2022, © Leeham News: United Airlines appears on the cusp of ordering as many as 100 Boeing 787s, multiple news outlets report. Airbus hopes to sell more A350s to United to supplement the 45 already on order.

But these 45 A350-900s are an order that has been viewed as iffy since United merged with Continental Airlines. Although ostensibly United was the surviving carrier, in reality, Continental was the survivor. The latter’s management displaced United’s old management. The livery retained was Continental’s.

The A350 order was placed by the old United management. The new executives added to the United order, but Continental had been an exclusive buyer of Boeing aircraft and executives were predisposed toward Boeing. UAL now has 120 Airbus A321XLRs on order. But this came after Boeing couldn’t decide whether to launch the New Midmarket Airplane after years of dithering. With a large fleet of Boeing 757s aging and in need of eventual replacement, United could no longer wait for Boeing to make a decision.

United already has a large fleet of 787s. Adding the A350s will provide an extra range that the 787s don’t have. But how many routes need the extra range to justify another fleet type?

LNA believes that United can cancel the orders for 45 A350s at little cost. The deposits may easily be applied to orders for more A321s, but cancellation penalties are believed to be de minimis. Based on 2018 list prices—the last ones published by Airbus—United could get about 110 more A321s in exchange for the A350s. (The number is probably a little less since the XLRs are more expensive than the A321neo “standard;” the list price makes no distinction between the sub-types.)

LNA expects United to cancel the A350s sooner than later and add to the A321 order.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 42. eVTOL range.

By Bjorn Fehrm.

October 21, 2022, ©. Leeham News: This is a summary of the article Part 42P, eVTOL range. It discusses the range of a typical eVTOL flying a feeder mission from a city center to an airport.

The 42P article details the energy consumption for each stage in the mission and the range we fly. We summarize the results here.

Figure 1. The Vertical Aerospace VX4 in an early rendering with similar looks to the eVTOL we discuss. Source: Vertical Aerospace.

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ICAO report outlines steps to reduce aviation’s carbon output

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By BRYAN CORLISS

Sept. 5, 2022, © Leeham News: Saying the climate crisis now is at “Code Red for Humanity,” the UN-sponsored International Civil Aviation Organization is calling on nations and companies to increase their investments toward techniques and technologies that can reduce aviation’s climate impact.

It won’t be easy, ICAO said in its Environmental Report 2022, which was released in July. 

The aviation industry will be one of the hardest to ween off carbon-based forms of energy, a recent report concluded. 

“Scaling the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and other energy sources requires substantial investment and financial support from both fuel suppliers and governments on top of what would be needed for associated infrastructural changes,” the report said. “This is particularly important, considering that the drop-in fuels have the largest potential to reduce the overall emission from international aviation by 2050.”
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Airbus prepares contrail flight tests

July 21, 2022, © Leeham News at Farnborough Air Show: Airbus is converting two Arcus high-altitude gliders to check if the contrails produced by hydrogen combustion engines create an environmental problem.

The background is that experts can’t agree if the water vapor produced by hydrogen combustion (which merges hydrogen with oxygen to water) can cause global warming or not. The only way to resolve the dispute and gain fundamental knowledge is to fly and measure.

Figure 1. First flight with the Blue Condor program’s test aircraft. Source: Airbus.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 26. VTOLs.

By Bjorn Fehrm

July 1, 2022, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we finished our discussions around Fuel Cell-based airliners using hydrogen as fuel.

We could see the technology has true zero emissions, but the maturity of the many parts needed (hydrogen tank and fuel system, multi-MegaWatt class aeronautical fuel cells, motors, and controls) are not there. We are in the crawling before walk stage with sub-MegaWatt systems to make their first flights over the next years.

Another area claiming Green credentials is the VTOL space. Because these are based on electric technology, VTOLs are claimed as environmentally friendly and a good way to transport people.

We will analyze this industry and its claims of being an efficient, environmentally friendly way of transportation.

Figure 1. Joby S4, the VTOL project that has come the furthest. Source: Joby Aviation.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 25. High Temperature Fuel Cell-based 70-seat airliner

By Bjorn Fehrm

June 24, 2022, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we discussed how a High Temperature Fuel Cell (HTFC) could improve the installation of a propulsion system in our 70-seat airliner. We now add this variant to the systems we examined for installation effects and efficiencies.

The deeper discussion is in the sister article, Part 25P. High Temperature Fuel Cell-based 70-seat airliner.

Figure 1. The ATR 72-600 70-seater turboprop. Source: ATR.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 25P. High Temperature Fuel Cell-based 70-seat airliner. The deeper discussion.

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June 24, 2022, ©. Leeham News: This is a complementary article to Part 25, High Temperature Fuel Cell-based 70-seat airliner. It adds the masses and efficiencies of a High Temperature Fuel Cell system to our 70-seat airliner fuel cell variants.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 24. High Temperature Fuel Cells

By Bjorn Fehrm

June 17, 2022, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we looked at the installation effects and efficiencies of the fuel cell systems we discussed in earlier parts of the series.

We could see the variants were significantly heavier than the propulsion system they would replace for an ATR72 size aircraft. The discussion assumed classical PEM fuel cells, also called Low Temperature PEM Fuel Cells. Now we look at if High Temperature PEM Fuel Cells can improve the installation situation.

Figure 1. The ATR 72-600 70-seater turboprop. Source: ATR.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Sustainable Air Transport. Part 23. Fuel Cell-based 70 seat airliner

June 10, 2022, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we looked at the different fuel cell systems that can go into a 70-seat airliner like the ATR 72. In this week’s Corners, we implement these in the aircraft and look at installation effects and efficiencies.

The deeper discussion is in the sister article, Part 23P. Fuel Cell-based 70-seat airliner.

Figure 1. The ATR 72-600 70-seater turboprop. Source: ATR.

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