Etihad Airways and Boeing have announced a first-of-its-kind ‘eco partnership’, in which a specially-themed Boeing 787 Dreamliner will be used to test products, procedures and initiatives designed to reduce aircraft carbon emissions.
The ‘Etihad Greenliner’, to be introduced early next year, will be used by both companies to explore and assess environmental sustainability initiatives while the aircraft operates scheduled services across the airline’s network. Other stakeholders, from equipment suppliers to airspace regulators, will be invited to join the companies in advancing and testing efficiency measures on or with the ‘Greenliner’.
Etihad also announced that it would operate a Boeing 787 ‘eco flight’ from Abu Dhabi to Brussels during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in January 2020, incorporating a wide range of environment-focused initiatives.
The blended green-blue design for the themed aircraft was unveiled at the 2019 Dubai International Air Show by Tony Douglas, Group CEO of the Etihad Aviation Group, and Stanley Deal, executive vice president of The Boeing Company, and president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
Mr Douglas said: “The rapid growth of air travel has increased aircraft carbon emissions, and it is the responsibility the aviation industry to reverse this trend. The ‘Etihad Greenliner’ will highlight the shared commitment of Etihad and Boeing to advance sustainable practices in aviation.
“The graduated blue tones of this design represent the importance of water in Arabic life and culture and symbolise the ‘blue sky’ thinking needed to deliver practical, incremental initiatives to progressively lower fuel consumption and carbon emissions.”
Etihad has the largest fleet of Dreamliners in the Middle East, and one of the largest in the world, with 30 787-9s and six of the larger 787-10s.
It has introduced them on 38 of its 76 passenger routes to replace less-efficient aircraft, increase capacity, and pioneer new markets, and says it will continue to expand their use in 2020.
Working groups will be formed between the flight operations and engineering arms of both companies, with senior pilots and engineers from Boeing’s 787 Division leading sessions at Etihad’s Abu Dhabi headquarters to identify and explore more emission-reducing measures, from changed operating practices to weight-saving initiatives.
The new partnership between Etihad and Boeing builds upon their existing membership of Abu Dhabi’s Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), an academic and industrial cooperative whose members also include Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), and the specialist technology groups Safran and Bauer Resources.
The SBRC is working to develop commercial quantities of biofuel from saltwater-tolerant plants, and the first commercial service to use this fuel was an Etihad Boeing 787 flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam in January this year. The airline said more such flights are planned using the new ‘Etihad Greenliner’.