Airbus set aside its aircraft to think about ships. The manufacturer announced the renewal of its fleet of charter vessels that transport subsets of jets between Europe and the United States.
Instead of ships that burn diesel to take parts of planes from the A320 family to Mobile, Alabama, Airbus will put into operation from 2026 onwards three vessels with a sustainable profile, powered by combination of six Flettner rotors – large, rotating cylinders that generate lift thanks to the wind, propelling the ship forward – and two dual-fuel engines running on maritime diesel oil and e-methanol.
To build and operate the new ships, Airbus hired shipowner Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, which is expected to gradually replace the current ships.
Airbus hopes to reduce average annual transatlantic CO2 emissions from 68,000 to 33,000 tonnes by 2030.
“The renewal of our marine fleet is a major step forward in reducing our environmental impact,” said Nicolas Chrétien, Head of Sustainability and Environment at Airbus.
The latest generation of vessels proposed by Louis Dreyfus Armateurs are more fuel efficient than their predecessors, using cutting-edge technologies like wind-assisted propulsion.”
Currently, the company’s ships take aircraft parts from Saint-Nazaire, France to its single-aisle aircraft final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama.
Before taking delivery of the new ships, Airbus will equip one of the current boats with similar wind-assisted propulsion technology. Three 22-meter-high sails will be installed on the Ville de Bordeaux ship in 2024.
In addition to being more efficient, the new ships will also be more capable. According to Airbus, each of them will have the capacity to carry around seventy 40-foot containers and six single-aisle aircraft sub assembly sets – wings, fuselage, engine pylons, horizontal and vertical tail planes. Vessels in operation can only carry three to four sets.
The fleet renewal is also justified by the goal of increasing monthly production of the A320 family to 75 aircraft by 2026.