Attendees of the ILA Berlin Air Show this year received a look at the first commercial aircraft powered (in part) by fuel cells. Airbus and the German Aerospace Center presented the Airbus A320, which they are testing with a fuel cell system. Their goal is to take the first step towards reducing aircraft environmental impact (including everything from fuel use to noise pollution) by 50% within the next 12 years, and while the fuel cells cannot replace the jet engines needed for flight, they can provide power while on the ground. Considering the amount of time and fuel spent on the runway, this has the potential to make a sizeable impact on emissions.
Taking it one step further, Airbus is also minimizing its impact through PAMELA, Process for Advanced Management of End-of-Life Aircraft. In other words, they’re recycling. The first plant will come online in France in October. Airbus is working to recover 85% of materials used in aircraft, and reduce by 66% the waste from end-of-life airplanes.
While there are lots of ideas on how to fly green, it looks to me like Airbus is well on the way to clearer skies.