Airbus to Install New Fuel-Saving Sails For Maritime Operations

Airline manufacturer Airbus will equip one of the vessels it uses to transport aircraft subassemblies, chartered from shipowner Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, with a wind-assisted propulsion technology that captures wind energy to generate thrust and, therefore, delivers savings in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

The eSAIL, developed by the Spain-based firm bound4blue, creates as much as six to seven times more lift than a conventional rigid sail. It consists of a sail-like vertical surface and an electric-powered air suction system that helps the airflow to re-adhere to the sail, generating additional lift and thereby reducing the load on the ship’s main engines.

Three 22-metre-high eSAILs will be fitted to the Ville de Bordeaux ahead of a six-month performance monitoring period starting in early 2024. The Ville de Bordeaux regularly ferries A320 Family subassemblies from Europe to Mobile in the United States for final assembly.

Fitting the eSAILs on the Ville de Bordeaux supports Airbus’ commitment to halve CO2 emissions from its maritime operations by 2030, compared to a 2015 baseline. According to bound4blue estimations, these eSAILs could deliver fuel and CO2 emissions savings of up to 560 tons and 1,800 tons respectively for this ship annually.

“We at Airbus have been studying wind-assisted technologies as a potential energy source for our maritime operations for many years,” said Nicolas Chrétien, Head of Sustainability & Environment at Airbus. “This technology looks promising and we are eager to start testing it in real conditions by the end of the year.”