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Airbus’ transatlantic operations try alternative propulsion system

More Articles November 2023

Airbus’ transatlantic operations try alternative propulsion system

As a global company, Airbus’ final assembly lines are spread across the globe with presence in Europe, China and North America, and for which aircraft parts have to be sent to for their final assembly.

One of the means of transportation, especially used to carry A320 Family sub-assembled parts across the Atlantic from Europe to Mobile, Alabama, in the United States, is the "Ville de Bordeaux", a cargo vessel from shipowner Louis Dreyfus Armateurs.

In order to accompany the production ramp-up while contributing to Airbus' purpose of pioneering sustainable aerospace, the cargo ship will benefit from various innovative features.

First and foremost, three eSAILs(R) will be deployed on the ship. The principle of those eSAILs(R) lies in a lightweight autonomous suction sail concept and requires minimal power consumption and mechanical complexity. The system creates as much as six or seven times more lift than a conventional sail, resulting in relieving the main engines from their power usage, hence energy consumption. According to bound4blue, the development company based in Barcelona, Spain, the fuel used could be reduced by 560 tons and the carbon dioxide emissions by 1,800 tons compared to the current performance of the "Ville de Bordeaux". This solution will start a six month trial during the first quarter of 2024.

In addition to this alternative propulsion system, a new elevator and cargo upper deck will be installed on the vessel to allow two additional single-aisle aircraft sub-assembly sets (wings, fuselage, engine pylons, horizontal and vertical tail planes) to be carried on every leg, bringing the total number of sets to six, a 50 percent increase compared to today's capacity. This will help reduce the number of transatlantic crossings while supporting Airbus' ramp-up in the US, as it is everywhere else.

The optimized operations and the reduction of the  emissions are a first step towards the decarbonization of Airbus' maritime operations. With new and more efficient vessels entering into service from 2026, Airbus will continue to pursue its commitment of reducing by half its CO2 emissions on maritime operations by 2030, compared to 2015.


For more information contact:

Damien Sternchuss
Vice President, Head of Airline Marketing