Everyone is looking to cut costs, and in the transportation industry, whether light vehicles or aircraft, fuel economy is the number one way to reduce operating costs.
Increasing the size of the plane to carry more passengers per unit of fuel helps, but there’s a certain point at which the increasing mass of the vehicle outweighs the benefits. Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner used, among other methods, a new all-electric control system in order to reduce weight and increase fuel economy. Unfortunately, due to a problem in the lithium-ion backup battery pack, the fleet has been grounded until their safety can be assured.
Boeing’s enthusiasm for its new control system may have outweighs its testing procedures, and AirBus doesn’t want to make the same mistake with its new jumbo jet, the A350-XWB. “We’ll do it when we’re ready to do it,” AirBus COO John Leahy said. He managed to get a jab in at his main rival when explaining the reasoning for not selecting a predetermined date. “We are not going to fall victim like Boeing did with the 787.”
AirBus test-fired the new more fuel-efficient engines, but hasn’t set a date for when they might actually fly the new jet. The new design uses more fuel-efficient engines and a mostly-composite design to reduce weight, both of which will help to increase fuel economy. Better fuel economy for these jumbo jets will help airlines save money and fuel over long-haul flights where fuel weight is a major concern. Saving money is one thing, but a side benefit would also be reduced carbon dioxide and other emissions.