Browsing Tag: Environment

Turning Leather Seat covers into Soccer balls.  Part of Southwest's new LUV Seat program - Photo: Southwest Airlines

Turning leather seat covers into soccer balls; part of Southwest’s new LUV Seat program – Photo: Southwest Airlines

When you think about recycling in the aviation industry, most folks think of the aircraft that are scrapped and recycled.  Some airlines will recycle the cans and cups onboard that get used, but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule.  However, what about something on a different scale?  Two programs have been launched this year that take different approaches to using up leftover materials and recycling them into something useful – something that will help people, not just the company’s bottom line.

In July of this year, Southwest Airlines launched their “LUV Seat” program, or as the motto puts it “Repurpose with a Purpose”.  Labeled more as “re-purposing” than “recycling”, the program is designed to take the leftover leather from Southwest seat refurbishments and turn them into usable goods.

The first of those materials is heading to Africa, where seat leather will be turned into soccer balls, shoes, and other items.  They don’t call it “recycling” – they call it “up-cycling”.  Turning unwanted items into higher value products.

Boeing painter Bill Pearson applies chrome-free primer to the 777-300ER that was delivered to Air New Zealand in November 2011. Photo from Boeing.

Boeing painter Bill Pearson applies chrome-free primer to the 777-300ER that was delivered to Air New Zealand in November 2011. Photo from Boeing.

Boeing has announced 10 initiatives on the 777 program that will help to eliminate 5.5 million pounds of CO2 and 300,000 gallons of jet fuel per year just in the 777 delivery process.

A lot of attention is given to how airlines can save money and the environment when flying them, but how about aircraft manufactures saving a little green (money and environment) before an aircraft is even delivered?

Before each 777 is delivered, there is a 20-day process of paint, tests and flights before Boeing hands over a brand plane to a customer. Boeing has been working on creating a more efficient process with Air New Zealand, which took delivery of a 777 using all ten initiatives.

“A team of employees identified redundancies in testing,” said Jeff Klemann, vice president Everett Delivery Center stated in a press release. “One idea was to eliminate engine-run tests already performed by GE, the 777’s engine manufacturer. This will result in a reduction of 1.4 million pounds of CO2 in 2012 as well as less community noise and emissions.”

In December 2010, Air New Zealand took delivery of their first Boeing 777-300ER. Photo by

In December 2010, Air New Zealand took delivery of their first Boeing 777-300ER. Photo by

A team of employees identified redundancies in testing and new more sustainable processes.Through out the 777 delivery process the team implemented the following 10 initiatives:

* Eliminated redundant fuel test in pre-delivery flight test
* Reduced the amount of times hydraulic filters are changed
* Eliminated engine-run tests already performed by GE
* Used waste fuel carts
* Reduced the number of times potable water is changed
* Reduced the amount of times engine fuel filters are changed
* Enhanced recycling throughout the delivery process
* Used electric carts instead of gas-powered vehicles
* Improved flight planning efficiency for pre-delivery flights to reduce fuel loads and flight times
* Used chrome-free primer

Nine of the initiatives will come standard with all future 777 deliveries. Usage of the special chrome-free paint will be an airline option.

* Behind the scenes of an ANZ 777-300ER delivery
* Checking out the interior of ANZ’s 777-300ER

Wind power for Alaska Airlines up in Nome, Alaska.

Wind power for Alaska Airlines up in Nome, Alaska. Photo from Alaska Airlines.

So where the heck is Nome, Alaska? It is pretty darn as close to the middle of no where as you can get, although it is on the western edge of Alaska. It is a small town of less than 4,000 people and transportation to destinations outside the city is difficult to come by. Roads connect Nome to smaller cities up to 54 miles away, but there are no roads connecting the city to the rest of the world. For the town to operate, it requires transportation via water and air.

Air travel becomes a necessity to get goods and people to and from remote areas in Alaska and Alaska Airlines is one of a few airlines operating out of Nome – it is also the largest.

Nome has long days in the summer, short in the winter and is the end destination of the Iditarod dog sled race. The remote city is also known for its fierce winds of 80 to 90mph. With being so remote, having strong winds and long days of light in the summer, it makes sense for locals to look at alternative sources of energy and that is just what Alaska Airlines has done.

Recently the airline built a 30-foot wind turbine next to the Nome Terminal and installed solar panel array on the roof.  According to Alaska, “the project is the first foray for Alaska Airlines into using wind and solar power to produce a significant amount of an airport’s electricity – and it appears to be the first time a domestic carrier has pursued alternative energy for an airport operation.”

Alaska is hoping that the turbine and solar panels will produce around 15,000 kilowatt hours of power per year, which is about 6 percent of the terminal’s load. If successful, the concept may be expanded to other rural airports in Alaska, said Ron Suttell, Alaska’s director of facilities planning and administration.

“The turbine was selected because it performs well in turbulent air, it is engineered to continue producing electricity in harsh climates and high winds, and the design eliminates icing issues on the blades,” Chris Andree, Alaska Airlines’ regional manager of properties and facilities, who oversaw the project for the airline.

Ricardo's TaxiBot prototype in action.

Ricardo's TaxiBot prototype in action.

Normally an airliner is pushed back from the gate with an airplane tug.  Once the aircraft is cleared of any obstacles, the tug disconnects and the aircraft moves on its own power down the taxi way and takes off. When there are back ups on the taxi ways, airlines waste fuel and create additional pollution into the atmosphere.

According to research done by Airbus and Israel Aerospace Industries, taxiing at airports will cost about $7billion per year by 2012, will release about 18 metric tones of CO2 per year, and create about $350million per year in debris damage.

Things might change in the future. Ricardo, an engineering company, has successfully created a new tug called “TaxiBot” that connects to an airplane’s wheels, and pulls the aircraft around the airport. The TaxiBot uses the plane’s breaks, but uses its own power, allowing the jet to save fuel.

Ricardo CEO Dave Shemmans said, “We are extremely pleased to have been able to play such a central role in the development of this innovative concept which could dramatically reduce the CO2 emissions of commercial aviation while improving air quality and reducing noise pollution in the vicinity of the world’s major airports.”

Since the TaxiBot has shown its potential, Airbus and ground support equipment provider TLD have agree to help in the next stages of development. The TaxiBot currently requires a driver, but in future designs, it will be operated by the pilot of the plane.

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Source: Ricardo via Gadling