special report

Aviation companies bet on electric at Paris Air Show

France 24, screen capture

The aircraft industry is facing growing criticism over greenhouse gas emissions that are set to soar as more people take to the skies. FRANCE 24's Bryan Quinn heads to the Paris Air Show to take a look at the possible technological solutions.


Dozens of firms at the Paris Air Show this week are touting their green credentials, with the industry pledging to halve its carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 2050.

Commercial aviation accounts for roughly 2% of global carbon emissions, but that number is set to rise as air traffic increases. Companies are investing in new electric technologies in anticipation.

But experts say game-changing technology for cleaner planes is still decades away. To meet the 2050 goal, engineers will have to overcome daunting hurdles to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels.

Batteries are a tempting alternative, either alone for smaller helicopters or in a hybrid system with traditional engines.

Such planes could be particularly competitive for shorter flights in the US, which has few train networks between midsize cities.

But scaling up the electric idea to bigger planes will require a quantum leap in battery technology.

"Today, one kilogram of battery doesn't provide as much energy as one kilogram of fuel. So we need new technology," aviation expert and CGI business consultant Xavier Tytelman told FRANCE 24.

Click on the player above to watch our report on the potential and the limits of the new technology on display.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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