The Airline Industry
Essay Preview: The Airline Industry
Report this essay
To this date, the airline industry remains to be one of the fastest growing industries; it had grown by an approximate 7% annually for the past decade and has helped to facilitate economic growth, world trade and tourism. Despite this, the airline industry is an industry with a low level of profitability due to several reasons- labor costs, social disorder, economic disasters and finally the constant rise in the price of fuel.
Jet fuel is a necessary input in the production of air transports, accounts for an estimate of 30 percent of airlines expenses and its price can fluctuate greatly from year to year. As a result, airlines have to recognize the need for radical change to ensure their survival and prosperity. Many have tried to cut costs, reduce capacity growth and increase load factors, others have even invest heavily in the quality of services that they offer, however they have all come to a conclusion that the development of more efficient aircrafts is the next crucial step to reduce operation cost and increase profitability.
In this essay, three different components of todays aircrafts (the engine, the wings and the propellers) are going to be discussed and their developments will be listed to show how they have been changed to increase efficiency and reduce fuel consumption. At the end of this essay, it is hoped that the readers will appreciate the effort of countless aircrafts engineers that was put into the development of the most important transport in our lives- the aircraft.
The engine is perhaps the most important component in an aircraft just like the heart in human beings; in fact its function also resembles the hearts since they both pump vital fluids around their bodies, the only difference is that the engine pumps fuel whereas the heart pumps blood. However, due to the gradual decline in the amount of fuel around the world, manufacturers have been forced by the situation to invent new types of engines or make radical changes to the old ones so that the aircrafts will consume fuel more effectively.
Surprisingly, the earliest aircraft engines were simple, low powered machines that were manufactured one by one for each specific aircraft and their productions were dominated by automobile manufacturers until people started to establish companies that specialized in aircraft engines. (1) During that the time, the aircraft engines were stationary- either radial or in line and the engine designed and built by Charlie Taylor and the Wright brothers for their Flyer was the most well-known because it propelled the first successful flight with only 12 horse power. (1) However, it was soon replaced by rotary engine for the reason that they were too heavy for the amount of power needed and since then different types of engines had been invented such as the turbojet, the V-type engine, ramjet and etc
Most recently, a new kind of jet engine is being developed by a small startup company and they promised that it going to be smaller, lighter, and more fuel efficient than current jet engines, and can significantly reduce the emissions from jet engines, as well. This engine is called an orbiting combustor-nozzle jet and it rotates the airflow through the engine in a vortex, rather than passing the air straight through as conventional jet engines do.(2) It is believed that swirling the incoming air into a vortex will create a more complete mixing of fuel and air, which will lead to more efficient and complete combustion of the fuel. The company stated that it is going to reduce fuel burn by at least 25% and reduce emissions by about 75%. This engine also needs fewer blades and has fewer moving parts which means it is going to be lighter and smaller which can also contribute to decreasing fuel demand. (2)
The design of wing is also of paramount importance of aircraft to consume fuel efficiently as the fuel now occupies a large amount of costs. Using fuel efficiently is a big deal in an airline in order to sustain their business and thus the aircraft manufacturers are now designing the aircraft with a special winglet which can reduce drag undergone by the operation of aircraft.
In 1897, the winglet design was introduced by Frederick W. Lanchester, an English engineer, as way to control the fuel consumption.(3). Thirteen years later, a Scottish engineer called William E. Somerville made a winglet and installed it on a plane.(4) He found that it increase the lift of an aircraft. Today, the designs of winglets play important roles in creating fuel efficient aircrafts and it was discovered that the rotated wingtip vortex can transfer what assumed to be wasted energy into useful thrust. Hence, many airlines have employ aircraft like Airbus A340 and the Boeing 747-400 that use winglets to save fuel.
There is one main type of winglet and it is known as blended winglets. It refers to winglets that are designed with less sharp angle