Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Fuel-efficient airplanes are in demand

Mumbai: With crude oil prices cruising new heights, efficiency has become the new buzzword across the world. The global aviation business too is increasing efficiency through streamlining operations and raising productivity. In between, the need for fuel-efficient airplanes has emerged. And with oil shooting up to $147 per barrel, the demand has become urgent, as fuel constitutes about 40 per cent of the direct operational costs for airlines.
But when will the aircraft manufacturers deliver?
Let us look at the options currently. For long-haul flying, the twin engine is the configuration norm these days. Thus, Boeing with 787 and 777, and Airbus with A330 have got an edge over the likes of the four-engined Airbus A340 and Boeing 747.
For short haul, it has been a case of finding incremental efficiency in Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.
But the two aircraft, which the global aviation industry is looking at as possible game changers, are Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 XWB. This is because both these aircraft use advanced light composite materials in their construction. Theoretically, this means that they would sip significantly less fuel.
Boeing claims that the yet-to-be-flown 787 will be 20 per cent more fuel-efficient than similar long-haul planes currently. That would translate into huge savings in direct operating costs. It is not surprising that the aircraft raked up a record number of orders, which at last count were 903. In India, both Air India and Jet Airways have ordered the aircraft at 27 and 10 planes respectively.
Airlines will believe the claims of manufacturers only when they see it. But once they see value, they are game to order more.
01/10/08 Nirmal John/DNA MONEY/Sify