Airbus and Boeing are working alongside engine original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and airlines to pursue development of sustainable bio-fuels.
At the Eco-Aviation conference in Washington, Airbus North America vice president and general counsel Renee Martin-Nagle said, "We are doing what we can as a manufacturer and as an industrial leader." He said that Airbus had set manufacturing targets for 2020 which include a 30 per cent reduction in energy consumption, a 50 per cent cut back in waste, and a 50 per cent drop in carbon dioxide emissions.
Along with Martin-Nagle, Boeing MD for environmental strategy Billy Glover also sees a bright future for biofuels. However, the two can't seem to get together on the time line, with Martin-Nagle anticipating anywhere between eight to 10 years to move through a testing phase and ''then it has to be proved.'' Martin-Nagle said, "One of the things we're seriously considering is algae." Airbus recently partnered JetBlue Airways, IAE, Honeywell and subsidiary UOP to develop a sustainable second-generation biofuel.
Glover was more optimistic, anticipating ''sooner than 2013'', when he anticipates low blends to be certified. He expects commercial service sooner than expected, and terms the progress of the last few years as ''remarkable''.
Boeing is working with Continental Airlines and GE Aviation to undertake a bio-fuels demonstration flight during the first half of 2009, using one of Continental's 737NGs, and is is involved in an upcoming demonstration by Air New Zealand and Rolls-Royce using a fuel made from the jatropha plant.
Boeing participated with Virgin Atlantic, GE Aviation and Imperium Renewables in the first airline bio-fuels test flight last February.
The two aircraft manufacturers are also working to build green manufacturing, and to develop environmentally-friendly aircraft dismantling processes. Martin-Nagle says that Airbus is looking at airframe disassembly and recycling, and the Pamela project that took apart an A300B4 and recycled 84 per cent of the material took a year. That he says is not economically viable, and the company is now paying special attention to composite recycling, as residual chemicals may need special handling and disposal