Alternatives To Oil Dominate Conversations In Berlin
As the public outcry over fuel
prices has risen along with the prices themselves, economists have
smiled and reminded us that without high oil prices, there will be
no incentive to embrace alternatives. It now appears we may be
reaching that point.
At the International Berlin Air Show this week, the Associated
Press reports the global aerospace industry will be focusing on
improved efficiency and developments in alternative fuels. Examples
include the recently-announced collaboration between Airbus and
Honeywell on biofuel for airliners, and Airbus's new composite
galley for the A380 -- which the company claims can cut, literally,
a ton of weight from the plane.
Among the airshows, industry functions and a commemoration of
the Berlin Airlift's 60th anniversary, the gorilla in the room is
oil, which hit US$135 per barrel last Thursday before retreating.
Some analysts say oil is just catching its breath before
challenging the $200 level.
AP reports this incentive is leading the industry to look toward
producing lighter, more efficient machinery and alternative fuels,
and airlines to streamline operations and reduce bottlenecks.
Bob Mann, the president of R.W. Mann & Co., an airline
analysis company based in Port Washington, NY, has apparently done
the math. "We estimate that at current fuel prices it would require
a 20 percent increase in revenue, accompanied by a 20 percent
reduction in capacity for US airlines, to generate economic
returns," he said.
"What the industry really, really needs is a ubiquitous
narrow-body design that will improve short-to-medium haul travel
economics by 20 percent or more," he added. "That is, so far at
As ANN reported Monday,
Boeing has postponed its plans for a replacement for its erstwhile
737... saying those economics simply can't be met with present
technologies. That's similar to what Airbus has said about a
possible replacement for its A320, as well.
Regarding alternative fuels, David Kaminski Morrow, an editor
with the trade magazine Air Transport Intelligence in London,
commented This is something that we'll see in the longer term. It's
not a simple exercise to take kerosene out and put something like
sunflower oil, or whatever, in."
The Berlin Air Show, officially called Aerospace Exhibition and
Conferences, is held every other year. It opened Tuesday and runs
through Sunday at Berlin's Schoenefeld Airport. Friday is the only
day open to the public.
This year's event has devoted an entire section to mark the 60th
anniversary of the start of the Berlin Airlift, including two
DC-3s, the aircraft which came to be known as "Candy Bombers."
Veterans of the Airlift from the US and Britain are expected to