EasyJet Promotes New 'Green' Aircraft Design

June 14, 2007

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British low-cost airline easyJet has unveiled its vision of a short-haul aircraft that it hopes will generate 50 percent less CO2 than its current planes and can be delivered by 2015.

The narrow-bodied plane would have two open rotor engines above a wide tail fin, with a lightweight body constructed of carbon composites.

"This is not Star Trek technology," easyJet Chief Executive Andy Harrison told reporters on Thursday.

"This is technology that is well within our reach. We are talking to Boeing and Airbus. We are working with manufacturers to get this aircraft delivered in 2015."

"We are currently spending GBP4 billion pounds (USD$7.88 billion) on aircraft -- they are listening to us," he added.

His remarks came as the head of European plane maker Airbus separately proposed a top-level gathering of aerospace groups, including its US rival, Boeing, to step up efforts to cut air travel pollution.

EasyJet's plans would put the airline five years ahead of CO2 cuts targeted by aviation body ACARE of 50 percent by 2020, although it plans to more than double its fleet size by then.

Easyjet said 25 percent of CO2 emissions would be cut by using open rotor engines, which must be placed above the tail due to their size, while 15 percent would be cut by using the lighter airframe and 10 percent by air traffic control improvements.

"We don't see biofuels as being the big step forward," Harrison said. "This (design) is the big step forward, and it's at our fingertips."

The aircraft design would also cut noise by 25 percent and damaging nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 75 percent.

Harrison said he thought Airbus was capable of building easyJet's vision by 2015 despite the time Airbus has taken in developing its new A350 aircraft.

"Boeing is ahead with the production routes, but Airbus has got the capability," he said. "What we're saying is -- make sure you're ahead in the battle for the short haul narrow body aircraft."