easyJet has unveiled its design for an aircraft that it calls the 'ecoJet', an airplane that it says will be "25% quieter and would emit 50% less CO2 and 75% less NOx [nitrogen oxide] than today’s newest aircraft (the 737 and A320 families of aircraft)".
The design, which is made up of a variety of current technologies, should be implemented by easyJet by the year 2015. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are projected to be cut in half by the design. It would be built probably by either Airbus or Boeing, and could, according to Andy Harrison, easyJet CEO, be built within eight years: "We are spending £4 billion on aircraft. They will listen to us."
He also said, “The aviation industry has an excellent record in reducing the environmental footprint of aircraft. Today’s aircraft are typically 70% cleaner and 75% quieter than their 1960s counterparts. Now we are planning the next generation that will help towards taking the plane out of the emissions equation. The aircraft example we have unveiled today represents the next major step forward in airframe and engine technology. The lightweight structure and open-rotor engines are based on technologies that are being developed right now by the major manufacturers. The “easyJet ecoJet” is realistic and it is achievable. If the “easyJet ecoJet” were to be made available today we would order hundreds them for fleet replacement and to achieve the ‘green growth’ that our industry has committed to."
The ecoJet makes sense from a marketing perspective for easyJet. Airlines, especially in Europe, have come under fire from politicians and environmental groups for contributing large amounts of greenhouse gases like CO2. And 'budget' airlines, like easyJet and Ryanair, have been singled out in particular, mostly because of their rapid expansion.
Leo Van Wijk, vice-chairman of Air France-KLM, has dismissed the airline industry's concern over global warming as "a load of BS". But it is important that airlines, airports and governments do everything they can do to reduce emissions. Airplane designs need to be more efficient; airports need to have less wait times, and air traffic control could be more efficient. That said, people ought to keep in mind that airlines only produce about 1.6% of global CO2 emissions.