Saturday, February 04, 2006

Paying Airlines to Pollute? (Airbus Offers Money In Lieu of Fuel Efficiency)

Those Oh so virtuous Europeans in the real world.. Post excerpted from Enplaned

Extraordinary article at Flight International in which Airbus concedes Boeing's 777-200LR/300ER has a significant fuel burn advantage over the A340-500/600. But, says Airbus supersalesman (technically Chief Operating Officer - Customers (*), but supersalesman is more descriptive of his role) John Leahy the A340-600 and 777-300ER have:
comparable ranges and seat counts and Rolls-Royce guarantees that maintenance costs for four engines are the same as the twin. I can agree a figure with a customer that reflects the fuel burn delta and run that out over 12 years and pay it to them. But if the 777's fuel burn advantage was to give it greater range, then we'd have to look at [improving the A340].
So first of all there's the interesting statement that Rolls guarantees engine maintenance for four engines (on the A340) will be the same as the two engines on the 777. That could be true, if, say, there's something really differentially expensive about materials on the GE90-115 engine on the 777. That's never been reported, so it seems unlikely. Apart from that it seems highly unlikely that four engines can be maintained in the same number of labor hours as two. That's quite a guarantee.

Move on to the main course. He's saying essentially that yup, the aircraft's got a problem, it burns more fuel, but we'll just give customers the present value of that. There are two issues with that, one money, the other the environment....

The other aspect is the environmental issue, which matters to some of Airbus's better customers, including Lufthansa, one of the home-teams. How seriously does it take the environment? Well, they're German, so of course they take it very seriously indeed, both because the environment is a serious issue in Germany and because, of course, Germans are serious, thorough people.

So in particular, Lufthansa produces a yearly 37-page magazine called Balance: The Lufthansa Journal for Aviation, the Environment and Sustainability (pdf). But that's not all. They also produce yearly something called Balance, Facts and Figures: Key data on environmental care and sustainability at Lufthansa (noch einmals pdf). 70, yes, 70 pages. You can't imagine a single US carrier doing this, but we doubt that makes them any less fuel concious, somehow. You don't need to be an earth-firster to want to save fuel in the airline business these days.

Page 23. Specific fuel consumption: Liters/100 passenger kilometers (for Americans, this is the reverse of how we think of miles/gallon -- here it's gallons (actually liters) per mile (actually kilometers) so lower is better, yeah we think that's bass ackwards too. A340-600 is 4.12(***), not as good as the A340-300 (3.99), but we'd guess that's to do with lower seating density on longer-range A340-600s (in many airlines, A340-300s have been relegated to much shorter routes than they were originally designed for). By the way, a full 25% or more better are the charter/LCC aircraft in the Lufthansa group (like Thomas Cook), which just goes to show that if you really want to be environmentally friendly, you need to give up legroom.

So very seriously environmentally-concerned Lufthansa is polluting the earth something like 10-20% more than it needs to by running A340-600s? How will that look to the deep green German public? Sure, you can make up the cost of the kerosene with money from Airbus, but what about the damage to the earth? Who's going to pay for that? At the very least, Airbus ought to plant a few trees to make amends.

It may sound like we're joking, but we're not, at least not entirely. Environment is a serious issue in Europe. In fact, the European Union is trying to drag the airlines into Europe's emission's trading program (we'll do a separate post on that, but it's a program where a company must buy the right to emit incremental carbon dioxide, which obviously gives them an incentive to emit less CO2). It's a particularly emotional issue in Germany.

Were we running Boeing's sales programs, we'd make sure that everyone in Europe understands the gap Airbus now acknowledges in fuel burn between the two aircraft, and that Airbus intends to, essentially, pay airlines to pollute -- worse than blood money, it's CO2 money. The environmentally pure thing to do, surely (and here we are deeply tongue in cheek) is for Airbus to stop selling the A340 if it can't improve it. Think of global w-a-a-a-r-r-m-i-i-n-g....


"America is addicted to oil"

"The President offered bracing new rhetoric about where he would like to take energy policy in the coming year, but he suggested little more than a bit more money for the same old programs that have failed in the past. In short, it reminds me of the metaphor about 'old wine in new bottles.'

"Regarding the rhetoric, it's odd that the President would complain that America is 'addicted to oil.' Another way of putting it is that American consumers are attracted to the lowest cost sources of energy to meet their energy needs. It's a bit distressing to call that sensible inclination an 'addiction.'

"As far as the new subsidies for coal, wind, solar, nuclear, and ethanol energy are concerned, if those technologies have economic merit, no subsidy is necessary. If they don't, then no subsidy will provide it. Those subsidies have failed to produce economic energy in the past and there is little reason to expect that they will do so in the future.

"Nor is it the government's job to design automobiles. Although government funded R&D projects to redesign the internal combustion engine are nothing new, they have never amounted to anything. For instance, while the Clinton Administration was engaged in a similar undertaking called 'The Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles' and producing nothing of consequence, Japanese auto companies -- without significant government help -- were busy designing the hybrid powered engines that are now all the rage within the auto industry. When government ties to pick winners, it usually finds itself stuck with losers and often sets the entire domestic industry back.

"Finally, achieving the President's goal of reducing Middle Eastern oil imports by 75 percent would be economically meaningless. A supply disruption in the Middle East would increase the price of crude everywhere in the world no matter where or how it is produced.

"There is nothing really new in this speech as it pertains to energy except more money for old programs -- the political equivalent of the triumph of hope over experience."



If George W. Bush needs an example of how ethanol can help to reduce dependence on oil imports, he need look no further than Brazil. What Saudi Arabia is to crude oil, Brazil is to ethanol - the environmentally friendly, renewable fuel of which it is the largest producer. Brazil makes the fuel by fermenting and distilling its sugar cane crop, the biggest in the world, and then using the liquid to fuel a rapidly increasing proportion of its transport fleet.

Seven out of 10 of all new cars sold in Brazil are now "flex-fuel" - owners can fill them with either ethanol or petrol. Computer sensors inside the engine then decide what will be the best mix of whatever is in the tank for optimum performance. Finding ethanol is not a problem either - almost all petrol stations have pumps selling pure ethanol, while all regular petrol sold at the pumps is in fact a mix called "gasohol", a blend that contains up to 25 per cent ethanol. Ethanol produces a cleaner burn than petrol, resulting in less pollution and smog.

One downside is that ethanol engines require about 25 per cent more fuel per kilometre than petrol. But in Brazil this is offset by ethanol's lower cost. It typically sells for 50-66 per cent of the price of petrol. The country first turned to ethanol as a substitute for petrol after the oil crises of the 1970s. Its ethanol industry has saved it billions of dollars since then. It is also better for the environment because ethanol consumes carbon dioxide as part of its production cycle. Besides sugar cane, ethanol can be produced from corn, sugar beet, wood chips, grass and organic waste. [But not as economically]

Recent technological developments have overcome many of the disadvantages traditionally associated with ethanol, such as its corrosive effect on tanks and engines. Fuel injection starters and the computer sensors in the flex-fuel engines mean that starting cars in the cold is no longer an issue and the sluggish performance of ethanol-run engines is a thing of the past.

Now Brazil's main challenge is meeting demand. The country aims to double ethanol production by 2013. Already demand is straining supplies between harvests, causing ethanol prices to rise to close to where petrol becomes more cost effective for flex-fuel drivers. But the industry says expanding sugar cane plantations and new ethanol plants will quickly solve the problem.


Global propaganda: "If global warming was real, it makes sense that there would be winners and losers. If the earth warms up, places like Canada and Siberia would be more temperate. There would be more moisture in the air, so deserts would get more rainfall. This presented a real problem to Global Warming's True Believers, so they began torturing the weak 'science' behind global warming to make it seem bad for everybody. Live in a cold climate? Global warming will make it colder. Live in a dry climate? Global warming will make it drier. Live in an area with lots of mosquitos? Global warming will breed more mosquitos! At some point, intelligent people will roll their eyes and realize they are simply listening to propaganda."


Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

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