Aircraft Efficiency

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Beginner’s Guide to Aviation Efficiency

November 2010

Contents

The importance of aviation

Introduction The miracle of flight History of fuel efficiency Designing aircraft Designing engines Operating the aircraft In the air On the ground Carbon-neutral growth and the next steps The next generation

Page 1 Page 2 Page 5 Page 6 Page 10 Page 13 • Aviation is responsibly reducing its environmental impact. Page 15 Page 20 Page 22 Page 24 • Air transport’s contribution to climate change represents 2% of man-made CO2 emissions and this could reach 3% by 2050, according to updated figures from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). • This evolution is based on a growth in aviation CO2 emissions of 2-3% per year, with an annual traffic growth of 5%. • Aviation provides the only rapid worldwide transportation network, is indispensable for economic development, tourism and facilitates world trade. Air transport improves quality of life in countless ways. • Air transport moves over 2.2 billion passengers annually. • The air transport industry generates a total of 32 million jobs globally. • Aviation’s global economic impact (direct, indirect, induced and catalytic) is estimated at $3,560 billion, equivalent to 7.5% of world gross domestic product.

This publication is for information purposes only. While every effort has been made to ensure the quality and accuracy of information in this publication, it is made available without any warranty of any kind. All currency is in US Dollars. This Guide is written in metric units, except where normal aeronautical use requires imperial units (i.e. altitude in feet and distance in nautical miles). A list of sources and references can be obtained at www.enviro.aero/aviationefficiency.

Introduction

Aviation has come a long way. With over two billion people travelling safely around the world every year and some 23,000 aircraft in commercial service, the aviation industry today provides a lifeline to communities, a connector of business and a conduit to the world’s great experiences. We have seen some amazing advances, none more so perhaps than the improvement in fuel efficiency. We can now transport people distances once thought impractical at speeds once believed impossible using relatively small amounts of energy. But our drive for even greater fuel efficiency is pushing the industry further still.

In aviation, fuel efficiency correlates directly to the distance an aircraft can fly, the amount of payload it can carry and, importantly, better environmental performance. This Guide explores the challenge of pushing efficiency in the aviation sector and some of the ways in which today’s industry is meeting that challenge, while ensuring it remains the safest form of transport. It outlines the progress currently being made and looks towards the future. For further details, including a review of the new sources of fuel the industry is exploring, check out www.enviro.aero.

Beginner’s Guide to Aviation Efficiency: Page 1

The miracle of flight

December 17, 1903. Two brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, undertake the first powered, controlled flight which lasted all of 37 metres. Today, as people regularly fly distances exceeding 15 million metres, one can appreciate what a world-changing event that small hop really was. For most of the twentieth century, aviation pioneers were obsessed with speed – first breaking the sound barrier and then pushing aircraft speeds higher and higher. It was the key to winning the air war and the key to exploring space. In the civil market, faster aircraft could fly higher – above the worst of the weather – and connect the world’s continents in ever decreasing times.

noisy, especially for those communities living under the airport flight-path. The aviation industry had to re-connect with the society it served and re-think its priorities. So in the last 40 years a new obsession took hold – efficiency. The aviation leaders...
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