Airbus Goes Green with its Transatlantic Fleet
Airbus is set to revolutionise its entire fleet of chartered vessels responsible for transporting aircraft subassemblies between production facilities in Europe and the United States.
This transformative endeavour will be achieved through the acquisition of three state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly roll-on/roll-off vessels bolstered by wind-assisted propulsion technology.
To accomplish this ambitious goal, Airbus has enlisted the services of shipowner Louis Dreyfus Armateurs to construct, possess, and operate these cutting-edge vessels, all scheduled to commence operations by 2026.
The anticipated outcome of this endeavour is a significant reduction in transatlantic CO2 emissions, with projections indicating a drop from 68,000 to 33,000 tonnes annually by 2030. This contribution aligns with Airbus' unwavering commitment to curtail its overall industrial emissions by as much as 63% by the end of the decade, utilising the 2015 baseline as a reference point and adhering to the 1.5°C trajectory outlined in the Paris Agreement.
Nicolas Chrétien, Head of Sustainability & Environment at Airbus, emphasised the importance of this marine fleet renewal, stating, “The latest generation of vessels proposed by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs are more fuel efficient than their predecessors, using cutting-edge technologies like wind-assisted propulsion. This demonstrates our determination to lead the way in decarbonising our sector by innovating not just in aviation but across all our industrial operations.”
Edouard Louis-Dreyfus, President of Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, expressed their satisfaction at being chosen for this pioneering project, underscoring their shared commitment to pushing the boundaries of sustainability in the shipping industry.
He stated, “This new project, setting high targets, reflects our ambition regarding the decarbonisation of the shipping industry. We are proud to support our customers in their energy transition, going even beyond their expectations by offering innovative solutions and sustainably driving change.”
Airbus will gradually phase out the chartered vessels responsible for ferrying its aircraft subassemblies across the Atlantic between Saint-Nazaire, France, and its single-aisle aircraft final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama.
The new vessels will be powered by a combination of six Flettner rotors, large rotating cylinders that harness wind energy to propel the ship forward, and two dual-fuel engines running on maritime diesel oil and e-methanol. Furthermore, advanced routing software will optimise the vessels' journey across the Atlantic, maximising wind propulsion while avoiding the drag associated with adverse ocean conditions.
This fleet renewal initiative is in line with Airbus' goal to increase A320 family production rates to 75 aircraft per month by 2026. Each of these new transatlantic vessels will have the capacity to transport approximately seventy 40-foot containers and six single-aisle aircraft subassembly sets, encompassing wings, fuselage, engine pylons, horizontal and vertical tailplanes. This represents a substantial improvement over current cargo ships, which can typically carry only three to four sets.