There have long been concerns over the damage that air travel may be doing to the earth’s atmosphere, with around 3-5% of CO2 emissions being released by air transport. And while airlines have been threatened with heavy taxations, passenger numbers continue to grow, with US passengers alone looking set to double by 2032.
However, work has been undertaken by manufacturers in recent years to try and alleviate the presence of high emissions from their products. We are now presented with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a commercial passenger jet that has been specially designed with the environment in mind. Capable of carrying 210-290 passengers, the Dreamliner is said to be the most fuel-efficient airliner in the market and is the world’s first major aircraft with a composite material framework.
Traditional air conditioning and de-icing systems have been replaced with electrical systems, removing the need to pump in air from the engines therefore reducing fuel consumption. Having been announced almost a decade ago, the Dreamliner has been carefully designed to meet the needs of a modern, eco-aware society. The lithium-ion batteries used on board the craft are much lighter than batteries used in the past and can store much more energy. The first flights were carried out back in May, from Houston to Chicago, with a slightly later launch date than originally planned due to some technical difficulties with the new batteries. These problems have now been rectified and all Dreamliners have been given the green light to take to the skies.
United Airlines is the only operator currently using the Dreamliner, though British operator Thomson Airways have recently acquired their first Dreamliner, with maiden flights due to take place on the 8th of July from Manchester to Orlando and Glasgow to Cancun. If you’re planning your holiday and want to travel aboard one of the most highly advanced aviation crafts the world has yet to see, you’ll have to be quick! Interest in the flights has been extremely high with passengers eager to snap up a taste of the future.
Aircraft manufacturers in general are currently looking into ways in which they can improve their fuel consumption and emission rates. Designers are looking into ways of utilising biofuels to largely wipe out the damaging effect that air travel can have to the environment, with test flights already being carried out around the world.
David Richards has been observing the travel industry from up close over the last few decades, having worked in the specialist press and publishing industry. Now enjoying a spell away from paper, he likes to blog from his quiet Somerset home.