Pioneering Environmental Technologies
Life Cycle Approach
Photo: Boeing Photo
At Boeing, we have long focused on supporting our products throughout their operational life cycle. This commitment begins with research and development, extends through supporting customers while our products are in use, and continues through end-of-service when aircraft are recycled in a safe and environmentally responsible way.
Research and Development
Photo: Boeing Photo
More than 75 percent of Boeing Commercial Airplanes' research-and-development budget effectively contributes to improved environmental performance. Major focuses include reducing fuel consumption, emissions, noise and hazardous materials, while increasing the use of recycled and sustainable materials.
We are investing in innovative new design concepts that are environmentally efficient and provide greater capabilities to our customers. The X-48 is a remotely piloted, blended, wing-body aircraft Boeing is using to research and test aerodynamics and technology concepts that could reduce the carbon footprint of future aircraft by an additional 20 percent. We're also developing environmentally efficient unmanned aircraft for military and reconnaissance missions. These include the solar-powered SolarEagle and hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye, which are designed to fly missions above 60,000 feet and stay aloft for up to four days carrying a 450-pound payload, respectively.
In 2010, we made major changes in contracting language and expanded the use of environmental criteria in evaluating and selecting suppliers. Besides being able to provide high-quality aerospace parts on time and within budget, we also look to our suppliers to maximize the use of recycled materials, minimize hazardous waste, conserve energy and prevent pollution. In addition, we launched a pilot program to include environmental reviews as a standard part of Boeing's ongoing quality inspections at suppliers.
With some 7,200 jetliners expected to be retired from active service during the next 20 years, aircraft recycling is a significant environmental opportunity. Boeing has taken a leadership role in aircraft end-of-service recycling strategies. We are a founding member of the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA), a global consortium of more than 50 companies that provides environmentally responsible options for addressing older aircraft. Association members recycle an average of 150 airplanes per year and have recycled approximately 6,000 commercial airplanes and 1,000 military aircraft to date.
The association has established specifications for environmentally appropriate ways to dismantle and recycle airplanes and aerospace components. Member companies annually recycle 35,000 tons of aircraft aluminum, 2,000 tons of special alloys used in aerospace manufacturing and 600 tons of reusable aircraft parts.
In 2008, Boeing led an AFRA initiative to develop and publish "Best Management Practices" for aircraft disassembly. AFRA adopted these practices and developed a related accreditation program. During the past year, Boeing has provided significant support to developing a follow-up Best Management Practice, which is on target for public release in summer 2011.