Airbus to launch low-carbon, wind-assisted transatlantic fleet

Airbus Low-carbon Transatllantic Fleet with Flettner Rotors
Airbus says that by 2030, the new fleet will generate 50% fewer CO2 emissions compared to 2023. Image courtesy Airbus

Airbus has taken a monumental step forward in its eco-sustainable trajectory, aiming for significant advancements in green transportation technologies. Collaborating with shipowner Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, Airbus plans to revolutionize its transatlantic fleet that transports aircraft subassemblies between Europe and the United States. The partnership aims to introduce three modern, low-emission, roll-on/roll-off vessels that harness wind-assisted propulsion technologies, all set to launch into operation from 2026.

“The renewal of our marine fleet is a major step forward in reducing our environmental impact,” said Nicolas Chrétien, Head of Sustainability & Environment at Airbus. Chrétien emphasized the newer generation of vessels’ superior fuel efficiency, attributing the advancement to groundbreaking technologies like wind-assisted propulsion.

Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, commissioned to build, own, and operate the new fleet, echoed Airbus’s enthusiasm. “We are very pleased to have been selected by Airbus to develop this state-of-the-art and low-emission fleet and to continue our longstanding partnership,” expressed Edouard Louis-Dreyfus, the President of Louis Dreyfus Armateurs. He also emphasized the ambitious targets of the project and the company’s pride in supporting their customers through innovative solutions in their transition toward sustainable energy.

The transformational vision involves cutting average annual transatlantic CO2 emissions drastically. By 2030, the target is a reduction from 68,000 to 33,000 tonnes, marking a 50% drop compared to the 2023 levels. This is aligned with Airbus’s broader commitment to minimizing its industrial emissions by up to 63% by the end of the decade, a stride toward meeting the stipulations of the Paris Agreement.

Technological innovations are at the heart of this transition. The new vessels will employ Flettner rotors and dual-fuel engines, utilizing maritime diesel oil and e-methanol. Enhanced by routing software, these technologies aim to optimize each transatlantic journey, maximizing wind utilization and minimizing the adverse effects of challenging ocean conditions.

In terms of operational capabilities, the vessels are designed with an eye on the future. Aiming to support Airbus’s goal of ramping up A320 family production rates, the new ships promise to be formidable assets. They are projected to have a remarkable capacity, accommodating around seventy 40-foot containers and six single-aisle aircraft sub-assembly sets, a substantial increase compared to the capabilities of the current vessels.

Source: Airbus