Today Airbus and Air are performing North America’s first “Perfect Flight” over international borders. The goal is to cut CO2 emissions by more than 40% compared to a regular flight. The commercial flight on an A319 flying from to Mexico City (AC991) combines the use of a modern, state-of-the-art aircraft, powered by sustainable biofuel, guided by streamlined air traffic management procedures and uses best practice operations to under-pin the industry’s four pillar strategy to tackle carbon emissions.

AC991 is taking the Secretary General of ICAO, Raymond Benjamin, to Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

AC991 is dubbed as the “Perfect Flight” because:

  • The A319 is the most eco-efficient aircraft family in its segment.
  • Use of sustainable bio-fuel blend (a 50% blend) made from used cooking oil supplied by SkyNRG.
  • Optimized routing and flight altitude. In agreement with ATC authorities, AC991 will fly the most direct route, using the most efficient vertical flight profile and applying a Continuous Descent Approach (CDA) into Mexico City to save fuel and limit noise.
  • Combination of several eco-efficient operational procedures such as single engine-taxiing, external aircraft cleaning for improved aerodynamics, light weight cabin equipment and a neatly tailored flight plan

Andrea Debbané, vice president of Environment Affairs at Airbus, explained this flight is the first time an OEM has combined all best practices currently available.  The 40%+ goal will be broken down after the flight to be able to assess much each of the deployed technologies accounted of the CO2 savings.

Airbus is demonstrating its road map to lower emissions can deliver a significant environmental impact. OEMs have to play an leading role in supporting commercial aviation to ensure airlines continue to burn less fuel, create less noise and reduce the impact of flight on the environment. The aviation industry has a goal to have carbon neutral growth by 2020. Airbus supports this target. It would be interesting to see if such positive improvements have any impact on the EU’s ETS.

Airbus is focused on three areas: developing state of the art airframe and engine technologies, exploit better air traffic control (Airbus ProSky) and supporting airlines with navigation and systems (like biofuels). Which is why AC991 on Monday is so important – all these functions are on display and ideally demonstrate much of an impact these have together in creating a significantly cleaner commercial aviation industry.

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