Airbus maps future travel

2011-06-22 14:06
Cape Town - Future aircraft will hopefully be safer, kinder to the environment and more luxurious thanks to research being done in SA.

South African researchers are involved in a research partnership with Airbus that should pay dividends in air travel in the future.

Some of the plans include a transparent aeroplane fuselage and automated control systems that should improve passenger comfort and safety.

"We don't have a monopoly of ideas at Airbus - not even in Europe. This will extend our research programme beyond European boundaries. South Africa has an opportunity for training and there may opportunities as well for commercial prospects," Dale King Airbus senior manager for research and technology partnerships told News24.

In SA, Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town are engaged in research projects that may eventually become standard equipment of future aircraft.

Research partnership

According to Professor Thomas Jones of Stellenbosch University, not all the work done will result make it on to planes, but it should result in safer air travel.

He is part of the research partnership developed by Airbus with several South African institutions and universities.

In the medium term, Airbus has announced a plan to use biofuel in aircraft.

"The European Commission, Airbus, leading European airlines and European biofuel producers, have launched an exciting new industry wide initiative to try and speed up the commercialisation of aviation biofuels in Europe," the company said.

Labelled the "Biofuel Flightpath", the plan has a target of two million tons of aviation fuel derived from biofuel by 2020.

"This is a unique opportunity to create the first industrial venture ever introducing sustainable biofuels for commercially competitive operations. The Commission therefore fully supports all efforts in this direction and will actively contribute to their success," said Mr Günter H Oettinger, European Commissioner for Energy.

Dutch airline KLM has announced plans to use recycled cooking oil as biofuel to power flights to and from France from September.

"The suitability of biofuels for aviation has been proven, opening an outstanding opportunity to drastically reduce air transport’s carbon footprint. Deployment of sustainable biofuels will only be possible through a shared vision and common objectives from producers, end users and policy makers," said Pierre Henri Gourgeon , CEO Air France-KLM.

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