Wednesday, 15 June 2011 09:27

Virgin America LEAPs into the Future with New Eco-Efficient Engines

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Carbonfund.org is thrilled to share this press release from CarbonFree Partner Virgin America announcing a huge stride in aviation sustainability. Virgin America is the first airline to purchase this new commercial aircraft engine touted as one of the most fuel-efficient in the world. Virgin America Airbus 320neo Virgin America today announces that it has selected CFM International’s advanced LEAP™ engine to power 30 new Airbus A320neo aircraft scheduled to begin delivery in 2016. In addition, the airline has selected the CFM56-5B engine to power 30 of its current technology A320s on order. The engine orders have a combined value of $1.4 billion at list price. In January, the airline announced it would nearly triple its fleet size with an order for 60 new Airbus A320 Family aircraft – including the first commercial order for the new eco-efficient Airbus A320neo. Together, the A320neo and the LEAP™ engine promise to deliver one of the world’s most fuel-efficient commercial aircraft, with more than 15 percent improved fuel efficiency, corresponding improvements in carbon efficiency and double digit reductions in NOx emissions. Virgin America estimates this will deliver a fuel cost savings to the carrier of $1.9 million per aircraft per year. To celebrate the new LEAP™ technology and its own growth, the carrier today launches a “Flyers, Start Your Engines” fare sale. To further mark the milestone order, CFM International and parent companies GE and Snecma (Safran Group) will purchase carbon offsets for the first 5,000 flights booked today at www.virginamerica.com. “Choosing LEAP™ gives us the best of all worlds – the most advanced technology, significant fuel savings, consistency with our current fleet and the reliability of CFM,” said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. “Our airline is known for taking a different approach to amenities, design and service in order to make travel better. But we’re just as committed to finding new ways to make travel more sustainable, even as we grow. The A320neo and the LEAP™ engine together will create one of the world’s most fuel-efficient commercial aircraft. Our investment today will ultimately help us take a major leap forward in terms of efficiency.” Virgin America’s current A320 Family fleet is powered by the CFM56 engine and is up to 25 percent more fuel efficient than other domestic fleets and one of the most carbon-efficient in the U.S. on an RPM basis. The LEAP™ engine and the A320neo with the new wing tip “Sharklets” will yield even greater efficiencies. Compared to aircraft powered by today’s best engines, the A320neo with the LEAP™ engine will provide more than 15 percent improved fuel efficiency and equivalent reductions in CO2 emissions, double digit reductions in NOx emissions, reduced engine noise and lower operating costs. Based on Virgin America’s use and operation of the aircraft, it is estimated that the LEAP™ advances will offer Virgin America an annual fuel savings of $1.9 million per aircraft at current fuel prices. With the LEAP™ engine, the A320neo aircraft will also offer increased performance range and emit 3,600 fewer tons of CO2 per aircraft on an annual basis. “Flyers, Start Your Engines” fare sale tickets start today from $79, restrictions, taxes and fees apply. Tickets must be purchased by 11:59pm PDT June 20, 2011, and travel must occur between August 24, 2011, and November 16, 2011. Tickets are on sale today and can be purchased at Virgin America’s Web site (www.virginamerica.com) and at 1.877.FLY.VIRGIN (1.877.359.8474). To mark the order, engine manufacturer CFM International and parent companies GE and Snecma (Safran Group) will purchase Carbonfund.org offsets for the first 5,000 flights booked today at www.virginamerica.com. Carbonfund.org, the nation’s leading nonprofit carbon offset provider, offers independently verified projects which are focused on emissions reduction and energy efficiency. Virgin America was the first U.S. airline to allow guests to offset the carbon footprint of their flight from the air – via Carbonfund.org offsets offered on the Red™ in-flight entertainment platform. The airline voluntarily offsets the carbon footprint of its headquarters operation on an annual basis. For more on the program, visit: www.carbonfund.org/virginamerica Since its launch in August 2007, Virgin America has created 2000 new jobs and grown to serve multiple destinations across North America. As one of the few growing U.S. airlines, Virgin America continues to expand its fleet, growing from its current 39 aircraft to a projected fleet of 52 aircraft by mid-2012.� The low-fare airline has expanded service to Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Cabos, Cancun and Chicago in the past six months alone. The airline will add 500 new jobs on annual basis and expand to two-to-three new destinations per year over the next several years. Known for friendly service, beautifully designed cabins and inventive amenities, like touch-screen entertainment at every seat, Virgin America has swept the major reader-based travel awards since its launch, including �Best Domestic Airline� in Cond� Nast Traveler�s Readers� Choice Awards and Travel + Leisure�s World�s Best Awards. “Virgin continues to lead the industry at making airline travel more sustainable,” said Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, a coalition of investors and NGOs that works with companies on sustainability challenges. “Its purchase of highly-efficient new engines demonstrates that business expansion can be done in a way that is beneficial to both the environment and the bottom line.” With investments in the A320neo, LEAP™ engines and green buildings, the California-based Virgin America is committed to improving its efficiency – even as it grows. The airline is also proud to be affiliated with the Virgin Group, which has committed to reinvesting all profits from Virgin-transport related businesses to renewable fuels research and other initiatives that combat climate change. LEAP™ is a product of CFM International (CFM), a 50/50 joint company between Snecma (Safran group) and GE.
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