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Aviation’s evolution: Fuel cells, 3D-printed planes and beyond
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Aviation’s evolution: Fuel cells, 3D-printed planes and beyond

There"™s no denying that the aviation industry has taken a toll on the environment.

Air travel has become the norm in most parts of the world, and reductions in airfare have increased the number of flights yearly. As a result pollution, particularly carbon dioxide, has continued to rise.

However, these effects have not been ignored by the industry. Through technological advances in fuels, airplane modifications and internal efficiencies, manufacturers, airlines and suppliers are making positive improvements to air travel.

Boeing, Airbus rethink planes
The recession that started in 2008 had a major impact on air travel "” namely, losses of nearly $9 billion by the following year. In this cost-conscious climate, airlines clambered for more fuel-efficient planes.

As a result, major producers such as Boeing and Airbus, who already had begun looking into improving fuel consumption, kicked things into high gear.

In 2010, Airbus released the A320neo, with an engine efficiency improvement of nearly 16 percent when compared to previous models. In 2011, Boeing followed suit with the introduction of its 787 Dreamliner to the market after it was shown to improve fuel efficiency by 20 percent when compared to the Boeing 767.

These types of advances haven"™t stopped with the improvement of the global economy.

Boeing"™s ecoDemonstrator (PDF) program, for instance, uses a lightweight shell, anti-icing wing technology and wireless sensors to replace wire weight and improve fuel efficiency. The latest versions of the aircraft are also highly recyclable, with the aim of greatly reducing the amount of aircraft parts that end up in landfills.

Luckily, aircraft manufacturers also aren"™t the only ones thinking green…

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