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Farnborough International Airshow celebrates 60 years - plane makers, airlines focus on green issues in challenging times


By WcP.Observer - Posted on 17 July 2008

the Farnborough airshow celebrates its 60th anniversary in 2008, an event which is expected to attract more than 250,000 visitors

(quote)

FARNBOROUGH, England: Plane makers and airlines at the world's largest air show struck a tone between conciliatory and defensive on global warming Wednesday — pledging to make flying more fuel-efficient but bridling at a European Union emissions trading scheme. Executives from British Airways and Airbus used a "sustainable aviation" summit at the Farnborough International Airshow to attack the EU over its revised emissions trading scheme, which it said will cripple the European industry coming on top of soaring oil prices. BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh said he supported a trading scheme in general but had "serious reservations" about the EU proposal, which he said would encourage carriers to bypass European hubs. "The EU should look again at applying a scheme that is workable in the first place and able to be applied worldwide," Walsh said.

a giant of the skies, Boeing's 777-300ER, can also be seen towering above the other aircraft on display

European airlines say the EU greenhouse gas cap and trading system would impose extra costs of 4 billion euros ($5.41 billion) a year. Buying enough carbon permits to operate between 2011, when the program would begin, to 2022, will cost more than 45 billion euros ($61 billion). Airbus CEO Tom Enders, who also broadly supports a trading scheme, criticized European politicians for pushing ahead with the "unbalanced" scheme "irrespective of the burden put on airlines by the oil price."

Crude oil prices hit a record of US$147.27 last week, underpinning a rise in oil costs for the aviation industry from US$44 billion in 2003 to an expected US$190 billion this year. The aviation industry has come under growing public and political pressure to curb carbon dioxide emissions, with calls for plane makers to invest more in new technology and for airlines to replace outdated fleets. New designs find ways to cut weight and air resistance and use more fuel efficient engines.

Unmanned aircrafts: Northrop Grumman has three on show, the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System, Global Hawk and the MQ-8B Fire Scout VTOL helicopter

The industry has argued that it is moving toward a cleaner future and that it is not the worst offender when it comes to the environment. Executives repeated cited the statistic that the aviation industry accounts for just 2 percent of global man-made Co2 emissions — in contrast to other factors like deforestation which accounts for some 20 percent. The 2 percent figure is forecast to rise to just 3 percent by 2050 if no action is taken.

Environmentalists, however, argue that the growth in air travel — currently about 5 to 6 percent a year — threatens to undo improvements made in other industries, ultimately undermining international targets to halve emissions by 2050 compared with 1990. "We are under fire from many fronts, certainly from environmentalists, certainly from the uneducated general public that finds us an attractive target at which to shoot," said Scott Carson, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airlines. "But the flying public still wants to fly."

Lockheed Martin's F22A Raptor, rarely seen at aviation trade shows outside the US. More than 100 are now in service at five US Air Force bases

Boeing Co. has touted its 787 jet for its greater fuel efficiency, although the plane has been hampered by delays that have cost the company credibility and billions of dollars in expected additional costs and penalties. Chicago-based Boeing on Tuesday said it remains on track to test fly its 787 jetliner in the fourth quarter of this year and make its first delivery in the third quarter of 2009 — but acknowledged that its timetable remains tight.

Its European rival Airbus claims its A380 superjumbo is more fuel efficient per passenger kilometer (mile) than a car, with less emissions, less noise and a seat capacity stretching from the median 555 to a staggering 800. However, the A380 building program has also not been smooth. Toulouse-based Airbus in May announced new delays on deliveries, already almost two years late, saying the company is behind schedule in switching to automated production. It said it will deliver 12 planes in 2008 instead of 13, and 21 planes in 2009 instead of 25. Etihad also gave the A380 program a vote of confidence, committing to buy 10 of the aircraft.

the LH-10 Ellipse has just two seats and a cabin width of 68cm (27in)

(unquote)

Photos courtesy of BBC News

Original Source: International Herald Tribune

Image Gallery: BBC News | In pictures: Farnborough 2008, Anniversary

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