Let Us Now Praise Our Industry

Innovation spurs cost savings and business survival


Let us celebrate the contribution of aviation to saving the environment while surviving in business.

In one example, a company called Expliseat recently announced the launch of the TITANIUM seat: a revolutionary 4kg-per-passenger seat that reduces seat weight by at least 50 percent for a fuel savings of 3 to 5 percent. This corresponds to a savings of $300,000 to $500,000 per year per aircraft. Y’all, that’s up to a half million dollars per aircraft per year!

Just compare that to all the demands of those who scream, moan, groan and weep over the ruination of our world by over-consumption.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the airplane that’s capable of flight from West to East across our continent without using any fuel at all! This airplane has the wingspan of a huge airliner with voltaic cells covering the upper surface. Those cells produce electricity, which is used to power the airplane while at the same time recharging the batteries that drive the aircraft’s propellers. Thus it can fly night and day.

Don’t plan to fly an airliner like this in the near future, but it does prove a point and it is a breakthrough. It reminds me of Benjamin Franklin’s comment after he witnessed an early flight of a hot-air balloon. Another witness asked, “But of what use is it?” Franklin responded, “Of what use is a newborn babe?”

What caused the use of winglets to grow by leaps and bounds? They save fuel.

Aviation is in a unique position to profit from any fuel savings. A big jet has to pay to lift fuel to high altitudes. If you save fuel, you don’t have to carry as much of it on any given trip. That means you save the fuel you save, plus you save the fuel it would take just to lift the saved fuel up to altitudes. This is a wonderfully rewarding spiral.

You are no doubt familiar with the newfound interest in LED lights in aircraft interior lighting, cockpit lighting and airport lighting. Economy is the long-term goal. In aircraft, weight savings produces fuel savings. In airports, the savings is reported to be in electricity. LED lighting is being offered for small experimental aircraft and touted for huge airliners. I read one online source talking about LED landing lights, which I didn’t think possible.

Pratt & Whitney’s new geared turbofan engine—developed over years and said to save 15 percent on fuel for airliners—is selling like blockbusters. More power to them (no pun intended).

Note that many recent improvements are made by people trying to save money, not the environment. This is a good thing. The will to profit and the will to stay in business are powerful motivators.

All over the world today, businesses—businesspeople, actually—work day and night to make more efficient fuels, engines, cars, trains, light bulbs, insulation, and lighter, stronger structures.

I have more faith in those people than in all of those who preach of dire disasters in solemn voice and woeful words.

As Cajuns say, “Laissez les bons temps rouler”!

To comment on this column or the current Ground Clutter blog, visit www.aviationpros.com/blogs/ground-clutter.

 

Ralph Hood Certified Speaking Professional; Member, Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame

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