VIEWS: Airlines and Efficiency

Dispatch from SSC Intern Julie Holst

If airlines continue on the track they’ve been on for the last century, their demise will inevitably arrive. Fuel prices are rising again, regulations are getting stricter, and passenger tickets are too expensive. These problems, along with the pressing environmental issues, will put airlines out of business if something does not change soon.

But things are changing. Electric planes, solar power planes, and other forms of efficient aircraft are being tested by multiple aviation companies.

Virgin Atlantic is working with Boeing and GE Aviation to develop biofuels that will be tested on 747s. Virgin’s boss, Richard Branson, had mentioned using cellulosic ethanol as a potential fuel source, but said that there may be problems with freezing levels above 15,000 feet. Butanol may be a more suitable substitute. Virgin has already successfully tested mixes of biofuels with conventional aviation fuel, (which Air New Zealand has also announced they will later this year). Branson has also pledged to spend any profit he makes on his airline business for the next ten years on fighting global warming. He also founded Virgin Fuels to invest $400 million in research into renewable energy.

Learn more by reading the following articles:

Virgin Atlantic testing Bio-fuel on Jumbo Jet

Efficient Modern Turboprop Aircraft are Making a Comeback

Airlines Save Gas By Slowing Down, Just Like Drivers