Air New Zealand has ordered 14 Airbus A320 aircraft to replace its existing domestic fleet of 15 Boeing 737-300s. Airbus has also announced its desire to see aviation move to synthetic fuels in the future.
Air New Zealand
The A320, which is larger than the aircraft type it will replace, will enable Air New Zealand to increase capacity on routes that are starting to face capacity constraints at some airports during peak times. Air New Zealand has also placed purchase options for a further 11 A320 aircraft, including the possibility of selecting the larger A321.
"Our 12 Airbus A320s already deployed on short haul international routes are performing well, and moving to one single-aisle aircraft type for both domestic and short haul international routes will immediately deliver added efficiencies in maintenance, crew training, and overall fleet simplification," said Bruce Parton, Air New Zealand general manager short haul airline.
Enhanced aerodynamics, engine enhancements and improved navigation technology such as ‘continuous descent approach’ keep the A320 the most eco-efficient aircraft in its class, Airbus claims.
The A320 Family includes the A318, A319, A320 and A321. Each aircraft features fly-by-wire controls and all share cockpit and operational commonality across the range. More than 6,400 Airbus A320 Family aircraft have been sold to more than 300 customers and operators worldwide, making it the world’s best selling commercial jetliner ever, and Airbus claims the A320 Family has the lowest operating costs of any single-aisle aircraft. Uniquely, the A320 Family offers a containerised cargo system, which is compatible with the world wide standard wide-body system.
Synthetic fuel approved
Airbus has welcomed the latest steps towards the approval by ASTM International, one of the largest voluntary standards developing organisations in the world, for the use of a 50 per cent synthetic jet fuel in commercial aviation. Synthetic liquid jet fuels can be made from biomass, natural gas or coal. All of these are known as xTL
"This breakthrough paves the way for a 100 per cent xTL blend made entirely from bio feedstock, such as woodchip waste", said Christian Dumas, Airbus vice president sustainable development and eco-efficiency. "This new specification is a major step towards reducing aviation’s environmental footprint and represents a significant achievement along the Airbus alternative fuels roadmap," he added.
The Airbus Alternative Fuels roadmap estimates that some 30 per cent jet fuel used in 2030 could be sustainable bio-jetfuel if maturity of alternative high yield non-food feedstock occurs in the middle of the next decade.
A major step towards the progressive introduction of alternative fuels was achieved on 1st February 2008, for the first time in commercial aviation history, a civil airliner, an Airbus A380 with Rolls Royce engines, flew using a 40 per cent blend of synthetic fuel derived from natural gas (GTL) supplied by Shell.
Airbus believes in extended international and cross-industry cooperation to develop sustainable alternative fuel solutions. Airbus and its partners have already gone a long way to studying fuel alternatives. Airbus is sharing alternative fuel research with European partners (Calin, Alfa-Bird -Alternative Fuels and Bio fuels for aircraft development). In November 2007, Airbus, Qatar Airways, Qatar Petroleum, Qatar Fuels, Qatar Science & Technology Park, Rolls Royce and Shell International Petroleum Company Limited signed an agreement to investigate in detail operational and environmental benefits of the use of GTL fuel for aviation