To meet the demand of more fuel efficiencies in the airplanes, the manufacturers adopt a holistic approach and a multi-pronged strategy. The most common areas which have been focused upon are: body of the aircraft, the development of better and fuel efficient engines and the alternative fuels. The research efforts has been primarily aimed at finding newer resources that can used in an airplane as well as at the development of newer technologies which are more efficient, safe and financially feasible for airplane development.
Usage of carbon composites in the making of the body of the aircraft which gives it the required strength as well as reduces the overall weight of the aircraft has been a major achievement which is set to reduce the consumption of the fuel. Though the use of these composites is being done on a limited scale, this is likely to be a trend of the future aircraft manufacturing.
Similarly, there have been newer and better engines which are fuel efficient. There has been need for developing powerful engines since there has been a trend to develop larger planes which can accommodate more passengers which need robust engines. However, the general principle is that the larger or powerful an engine is, the greater is the loss of efficiency. The new technology focuses on reducing these inefficiencies and making the larger and long-haul plane engines as efficient as the smaller ones.
Another area which has been worked upon to incorporate greater efficiencies is that of alternative fuels in the aircraft. Many options have been tried in this regard. In place of the conventional kerosene fuel, the alternatives tried are the bio-fuels, methanol, liquid hydrogen and the high performance synthetic fuels. Each of these alternatives have their own set of pros and cons which puts limitations on their usage. While the synthetic fuels are high on performance, these contribute to global warming. The use of bio-fuels, which are environment friendly, do affect performance and therefore, there is a need to blend them with some other fuels which entails more costs. Therefore, there has been continued research effort focused on developing technologies which can meet all the requirements and also be commercially viable for sustainable usage.
Development of the alternative fuels will be a step forward for the energy independence of every country. It will also result in hedging the risks associated with the fluctuations in the global crude prices. Further, the growing aviation market will be able to offer cheap air tickets due to high efficiencies without compromising our environment.
The author is employed with an online travel portal of India and writes on matters of civil aviation. You can book the cheap international flights as well as domestic flight on India's premier LCCs such as Indigo on this portal.