(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Ayeni Olusegun |
Doha, Qatar: Qatar Airways will be a launch customer for Boeing 777X – as Boeing continues to cement its partnership with Qatar and its flagship airline.
In an interview with The Peninsula, President of Boeing Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META), Kuljit Ghata-Aura, said Qatar is an important partner for the aircraft company and a purchaser of every part of“our business, either through the airline, as you mentioned, or through the Ministry of Defense and particularly Qatar Air Force (QAF).
Ghata-Aura highlighted Boeing's partnership with Qatar Airways, which dates back to the airline's first order in 2006, adding that the relationship between the two entities remains strong, with QA being the launch customer for some of Boeing's most innovative and newest products. In April this year, Qatar Airways took delivery of its first 737-8.
“We've been very pleased that they have chosenas part of their growth story. We currently have around 120 Boeing aircraft in their fleet, with about another 130 on order. These include some of the most sophisticated aircraft we're producing,” Ghata-Aura said.
“We were privileged to get an order for the 737-10 and the 787. Qatar will also be a launch customer for the 777-9 or the 777X and the 777-8 freighter. These aircraft are some of the most advanced on the market. They're providing superior fuel efficiency, great reliability and flexibility. The 737-10 is the largest version of the Max family, with 230 passengers on this aircraft. It's a very efficient aircraft in terms of emissions, and it's delivering the best per seat economics of any single-aisle aircraft whilst also reaching 99% of the world in that single aisle class,” he added.
Ghata-Aura also disclosed that beyond conventional aviation, Boeing partners with Qatar in the innovation and technology field.
He noted that Qatar has concentrated on developing the education field with a particular interest in research and development to facilitate an innovation-driven environment.
He said Boeing has a long-term relationship with the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), a member of the Qatar Foundation, which is based on machine learning and data analysis. He said the data generated by an aircraft is a valuable resource for this partnership as this data could be analysed and used to benefit the industry. Besides, they have also collaborated on an innovative product that could identify foreign objects on a runway.
In academia, Boeing works closely with Qatar University on several aerospace projects, particularly in unmanned areas. Ghata-Aura said Boeing works through its partner, Injaz Al Arab, to conduct several impactful programmes, stimulating entrepreneurship and innovation, particularly in STEM areas with students.
“We've probably touched 5,000 students over the time we've been doing these programmes. These are terrific events because you interact with the teams, and see great ideas they come up with, and it's a great way of engaging with Qatari youth in those sorts of programmes.
“These relationships are really important, and we are looking to deepen them and go broader,” Ghata-Aura added.
While these partnerships aim to build technology and innovation-based manpower, the airline industry would undoubtedly need rapid tech advancement, especially with sustainable aviation a significant topic. Aviation produces over 2% of the world's emissions and is considered one of the hardest sectors to decarbonise. In 2021, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) passed a resolution which saw IATA member airlines commit to achieving net-zero carbon emissions from their operations by 2050.
Despite these commitments, Boeing forecasts global demand for 42,595 new airplane deliveries through 2042, with the global fleet expected to grow by 2.8% annually and double from 24,500 jets in 2022 to 48,600 jets by 2042.
“Sustainability, the environment is the number one issue facing the world right now. If you look at the growth that we're expecting to see for the next 20 to 30 years, the industry has to take steps to address that straight away, which is why we fully support and are committed to the industry-wide objective to get tozero by 2050,” Ghata-Aura stressed, adding that the company appointed its first chief sustainability officer two years ago.
“We produced a sustainability report, and we committed to, by 2030, only delivering aircraft that were capable of flying on 100% sustainable aviation fuel.”
Ghata-Aura said the newer Boeing aircraft models improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions by 15 to 25%. He told The Peninsula that the 777X, 737-10 and the 777-8 freighter are some of the most sustainable aircraft because each produces less emissions than the models they replace. Besides the emissions, the noise footprint is reduced by about 50%.
For instance, the 777X is touted to be the most efficient widebody aircraft in operation, reducing emissions and fuel burn by 10% and reducing noise footprint by 40% compared to the plane it replaced.
Ghata-Aura emphasised that Boeing advocates for sustainable aviation fuel.“At the moment, operators are only certified to fly aircraft on a blend of 50% sustainable aviation fuel. We want to enable the aircraft by 2030 to fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuel.”
He said while that is just a part of the solution to sustainable aviation, there has to be a concerted effort between operators, manufacturers, and regulators to enable an environment where there are more producers to bring down costs.
Ghata-Aura underlined that another aspect of sustainable aviation is future technology. He said that Boeing expects to see considerable innovations in how aircraft are powered in terms of aircraft design. He said Boeing has partnered with Nfor a sustainable flight demonstrator programme.
“One of the aims of that programme is to take the learnings that could potentially be brought into and considered in future product studies. One part of that is on an existing Boeing MD 90 that will be adapted to be a transonic truss braced wing design, which aims to reduce emissions by around 30%.
“When you look at future aircraft design, I think sustainability is going to be at the fore of those designs,” Ghata-Aura stated, adding that hydrogen as an alternative has been tested on six aircraft - manned or unmanned using hydrogen fuel cells.
“We've also worked with Non a huge cryogenic storage tank that would probably store about as much of the hydrogen you'd need to power, say, a 737. So, I think that gives you an example of the amount of work that would need to be done to try and adapt that hydrogen for mass transit. Just in terms of how much of it you would need and how you would potentially need to store it.”