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Airbus to promote use of sustainable aviation fuels

By ZHU WENQIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2023-09-27 09:18

Visitors gather at the Airbus booth during an aviation expo in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, in November. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

France-headquartered aircraft manufacturer Airbus said China has the huge capability of producing sustainable aviation fuels, and it will continue to strengthen cooperation with Chinese suppliers to promote the use of SAF to contribute to the sustainable growth of the aviation industry.

Airbus said nearly all the airlines in China have expressed an interest in using SAF and the plane maker plans to further promote its use in the delivery flights of aircraft at its final assembly line in Tianjin.

"We are all committed to achieving net zero for the industry, and regulatory policy will play a key role because it will help stimulate the production of SAF and its demand," said Julie Kitcher, executive vice-president of Airbus, who visited China this week for the first time since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airbus is making a significant investment of around 2 billion euros ($2.11 billion) annually in research and development, which is mainly targeted at sustainable aviation. By the end of this year, its new aircraft lifecycle service center in Chengdu, Sichuan province, is expected to be put into operation.

"We need to look at the overall lifecycle of the aircraft from design, supply chain, operations, maintenance and end-of-life recycling. We will be able to recycle 90 percent of the weight of an aircraft. It's about having a responsible approach to the development, manufacture, operations and end-of-life through the value chain," Kitcher said.

Meanwhile, Airbus' research center in Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, opened in April, which focuses on the research of the infrastructure for its futuristic hydrogen-powered aircraft.

"Our ambition is to have the first hydrogen-powered aircraft in service by 2035. We are working to create a supportive ecosystem to ensure the storage, distribution and availability of green hydrogen can supply the commercial aircraft, and that's going to take time," Kitcher said.

She added that the company is developing different bricks in the overall ecosystem to prepare for the airports of tomorrow and ensure abundant access to green hydrogen, at the right price.

Airbus has more than 200 suppliers in China, including 17 tier-one suppliers. Its industrial cooperation value in China has exceeded $1 billion.

In China's energy consumption structure, the transportation sector accounts for 10.4 percent of total carbon emissions, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. Compared with other industries, the challenges of achieving carbon peak faced by the transportation industry are prominent.

Domestic companies have also been making efforts to reduce carbon emissions. China Energy Engineering Corp Ltd is contributing to help build a group of demonstration projects, including green roads, rail transits and airports in the country. Those projects will deeply integrate smart transportation and energy management.

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