The Airbus A380 and CO2

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The A380: the latest feat of the human species?

By Eric Souffleux

While everyone welcomed the first flight of the A380, I feel a deep sadness. The society around me is reached the Titanic syndrome. She believes in the omnipotence of progress and is going to reflect on the meaning it gives him. Whatever we have heard of the presence of icebergs, the key is to continue to break records ... of energy consumption and emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

In your columns, we can read that this plane is a "green giant" because it consumes only 2.9 liters of kerosene to 100 km per passenger. I find that talking about this plane as an ecologically acceptable airplane is simply outrageous. But I understand it because there is a chronic lack of information on the icebergs that threaten us. Among these icebergs, the biggest is certainly global warming. To avoid the worst problems, we know that we should now limit our GHG emissions to 500 kg carbon equivalent, and it is very likely that tomorrow (at the 2030-2050 horizon) will lower this threshold to 300 kg. What is the figure of 500 kg carbon equivalent in terms of oil consumption? Here is the conversion factor to remember: 1 liter of petroleum fuel leads to the emission of about 800 g carbon equivalent. (The author speaks here in equivalent pure carbon and not CO2, multiply this figure by about 3 figure for the mass of carbon dioxide rejettée, cf. Equations combustion and CO2 ). Therefore, limiting its emissions to 500 kg carbon equivalent amounts to limiting its annual oil consumption to 625 liters. It is already very little since it would correspond to a single trip in A380 (livestock version with a company of the "Air Livestock" style) of 21500 km! And because the emissions are done at high altitude, the resulting greenhouse effect is two to four times higher, which divides the permissible kilometer ceiling accordingly. To simplify the calculations and to take into account the scientific uncertainties on this subject, I did not take them into account for the rest of the text, but this aspect of the problem must be kept in mind.

We must also consider the fact that emits GHGs with other activities that the transport business. In France, only a quarter of our emissions are from transportation, so we can say that we must reserve for transport a quarter of 625 liters cited above, either 159 liters (just a barrel of oil ). With a barrel, we can no longer travel on A380 5500 km!

And in this the transport sector, there are not as aviation, he also (and ahead) cars, trucks and boats. Finally, the share of oil we could stand to travel A380 could be around 20 liters per year, enough to 700 km, which is very optimistic given the characteristics of stratospheric emissions. We clearly see while A380 is compatible with the ecology that if people are limited to a single trans-oceanic travel to all 20 80 years. And yet, they will have to limit parallel their automobile fuel consumption in liters per year 50, full with our current cars!

I think I have given enough numbers so that the reader can understand the A380 is probably the last feat of the human species on incentives to GHG emissions. When I was a child, my dream was to become a fighter pilot. I grew up with technological progress, I spend hours 60 on board civil aircraft and I do not know by what miracle, I was guided by reason and wisdom on a different way of seeing the world. For two and a half years, I came into this society resistance against waste and contempt for future generations. Do not count on me to continue in this way. I boycott aviation because now I know the consequences, I consider myself an intentional homicide guilty to future generations if by chance, I crossed again the gate of an airliner.

I also think it will reserve our strength to face the rampant crack real estate, soaring oil prices and all calamities we prepare nature.

To conclude, what distresses me the most is that through this forum, and in a general way, the whole media, I'm a marginal. I dream that all the people who recognize themselves in what I write do the same, so that I am not the only one, or almost, to testify of my daily fight against the fatalism surrounding.

Eric Souffleux


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