Manufacturing News

Chinese plane makers building low-carbon planes

As the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, meets in Montreal to try to reach a deal on the EU's planned carbon tax -- known as the Emissions Trading Scheme, or ETS -- new technologies to make Chinese planes greener are now on show at the 2013 Beijing Aviation Expo.

The EU's planned 15 percent carbon tax could have cost eight Chinese airlines -- including China Eastern and China Southern airlines fines of 2.4 million euros, or roughly $3 million. Earlier this month though, sources with the EU indicated it's willing to compromise.

If it's opponents, led by China and the United States, apply a similar levy, by 2016. Now, Brussels has put the plan to the International Civil Aviation Organization, in hope of reaching a deal to tackle airline emissions. But at the Beijing Aviation Expo, other ideas are in the pipeline to make airlines more carbon-friendly.

"Despite its strong opposition to the EU's carbon tax, China is taking steps to cut its carbon footprint in the skies. With new technology being unveiled at the expo today, that will make Chinese airlines greener in the future."

One example is the Electric Green Taxiing System, or EGTS, developed by Honeywell and Safran as an alternative to turbofan engines. When it hits the market in 2016, it could save airlines up to $200,000 a year during take-off and landing -- a significant part of airlines' fuel costs 6%.

Chinese planemakers are going green, too. Not just to cut costs -- but to comply with China's latest aviation policy.

"We give great emphasis to environmental protection. We will use new engines for the C919 that cut carbon and save energy. We've made a specific outline for futher developments in this area, which follow the request of our administration. The C919 will be ready in 2015." Luo Ronghuai, Vice President of Commercial Aircraft Assoc. of China said.

Airbus's newest model, the A350, is also designed to save fuel made in a joint venture with its Chinese partners.

"In the A380, around 20 percent of the total weight of the frame is carbon fibre. In the A350, we have half of it. 50 percent is carbon fiber. That makes a difference. In terms of savings, fuel burn, because it's lighter." Rafael Gonzalez-Ripoll, COO of Airbus China said.

Though China's demand for airplanes will account for 60 percent of the world's total, it's now looking to balance this with saving fuel and the environment.

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