Boeing, Airbus, Embraer Join Forces On Biofuels

The world’s three biggest makers of passenger planes have put aside commercial rivalries and agreed to work together with governments and biofuel producers to promote and speed up the availability of jet fuels that reduce carbon emissions.

Airbus, Boeing and the Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer signed an agreement in Geneva this week at the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) Aviation and Environment Summit.

Biofuels

image via Boeing

The memorandum of understanding was signed by the CEOs of Airbus and Boeing and by the head of Embraer’s commercial aviation arm.

“There are times to compete and there are times to cooperate,” Jim Albaugh, Boeing CEO, said in a statement released after the meeting. “Two of the biggest threats to our industry are the price of oil and the impact of commercial air travel on our environment. By working with Airbus and Embraer on sustainable biofuels, we can accelerate their availability and reduce our industry’s impacts on the planet we share.”

The agreement between the top three aircraft makers comes as the airline industry faces renewed pressure to reduce its CO2 emissions.

A new EU law that took effect in January makes it obligatory for airlines flying in and out of Europe to purchase carbon permits to offset their emissions. The measure has stoked a potential trade war with the United States, China and India—the top three carbon emitters—questioning the EU’s legal jurisdiction to charge for flights.

Many airlines have already taken the first steps to converting to biofuels.

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for CNN.com and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.