Australian airline Virgin Blue has announced several green initiatives, including its aim to cut water usage by eliminating the need to wash its fleet of aircraft. But before you imagine planes with 'I need a wash' scrawled on their dusty exteriors, the carrier has invested in a high-tech, water resistant "Permagard" sealant which it says will save ten of thousands of litres in cleaning water.
The Permagard process cleans and completely seals the aircraft's outer surfaces, protecting the paint from water corrosion and damaging UV rays. Says Mark Pettit, managing director of Permagard Aviation:
"Currently, Virgin Blue is required to wash its fleet every 60 days. Our programme eliminates the need to wash the planes, replacing this process with a reapplication of protective coating every 12 months."
Virgin Blue will treat its fleet of 52 Boeing 737-800 and 20 Embraer E170 and E190 jets with the Permagard solution. The airline has also announced a carbon offsetting programme for both its customers and staff – passengers flying with the carrier will have the opportunity to donate to Australian Greenhouse Office approved projects such as forestry activities, energy efficiency measures, and waste diversion and the generation of renewable energies. Virgin Blue has also pledged to commit around AUD$500,000 annually to offset the impacts of its own crew and staff travelling on company business.
It's not the only recent green announcement from an airline bearing the Virgin name, with Virgin Atlantic announcing ongoing tests on biofuels, and the purchase of a fleet of the fuel efficient Boeing Dreamliner aircraft to replace its A340-400 aircraft (see online news April 26).
For more information visit virginblue.com.au.
Report by Mark Caswell