Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Shorter Flights to everywhere? That's What the Future Could Hold, According to Airbus

On good days, I explain my wanderlust, and that of others, with phrases like "getting to know our neighbors and thus advancing the cause of world peace" or "lifelong education".  But when I take a hard look at my habits, my jetsetting proclivities, I recognize that I'm a big part of the problem when it comes to climate change. Air travel is not a very green way to get places, alas.

But it could be in the future, at least if some of Airbuses suggestions are followed. That's right, a company that's been responsible for a heckuva lot of carbon emissions has actually come up with a bunch of darn good strategies for making flights more eco-friendly. They include:
  • Changing the ways planes take off. If a plane could be shot out, as if being propelled by a slingshot, it could achieve its cruising altitude in a far more efficient fashion, reducing both emissions and noise. That may sound wacky, but remember that the sea planes that take off from aircraft carriers are already using this sort of technology (since runways are necessarily short aboard these carriers).
  • Flying more like birds do: Instead of using established air corridors, airplanes could, with the help of new technology, simply fly the most direct routes. That could mean hours trimmed from transatlantic and transpacific itineraries. They might also fly in formation with planes going in the same direction in order to reduce the effects of wind drag.
  • Landing slower. Instead of coming in at full throttle, aircrafts might simply glide onto the runway. The runways could be shorter then, and noise pollution would be significantly decreased (as would emmissions).
  • The use of other forms of energy: Yes, someday planes might fly on solar power, or the wind they generate, or use bio-diesels. Hopefully that day isn't too far in the future.
For more on Airbus' plans, plus video presentations on possible future aircrafts, click here for an article from the Singularity blog. According to an author who identifies himself as Socrates  "Airbus says its plans could cut average flights by 13 minutes and save almost 30 million tons of avoidable CO2 emissions a year." Wouldn't that be great?!?  

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