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TOULOUSE – As Airbus loudly outlines its broad long-term aspirations for a commercial aircraft that produces no CO2 in flight as part of its ZeroE initiative by 2035, it continues to extremely quietly advance another, potentially more significant program called eAction — its search for technologies that will enable a clean-sheet successor or major evolution for the A320 family.

There is virtually no public information about eAction outside Airbus itself, though the company has trademarked the name and a recent job posting puts the previously unreported effort in the same breath as its ZeroE program. While not earmarked for any specific program or aircraft, said an Airbus spokesman, eAction is described by the company as “an internal working name for a bundle of research and technology bricks that we are studying to make our aircraft more efficient” with a focus on materials, aerodynamics and propulsion.

Related: X-Wing comes to light as major new Airbus demonstrator program

Airbus’s recent two-day summit on future sustainability was long on building blocks for future advanced propulsion technologies that could produce air travel without emissions (more than a decade away), yet short on near and medium-term advances that could continue to incrementally reduce CO2.

While the mathematical reality of incremental changes won’t produce carbon-free flying, the coming years of record planned production of Airbus single-aisle jets mean changes to its existing slate of aircraft can — in aggregate — produce a significant benefit as they replace less efficient retiring jets. Airbus’s chief commercial officer Christian Scherer said last week that Airbus is effectively sold out of A320 family production slots until 2029. 

Airbus’s upcoming X-wing or eXtra Performance Wing demonstrator — first reported by The Air Current in September 2021 — is among the near-term candidates for eAction that that have the potential to steer what could advance either another evolutionary step for the A320 family, should Airbus decide to re-wing the single-aisle family in the next decade, or provide the basis for a eventual clean-sheet replacement.

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Jon Ostrower is Editor-in-chief of The Air Current. Prior to launching TAC in June 2018, Ostrower served as Aviation Editor for CNN Worldwide, guiding the network's global coverage of the business and operations of flying. Ostrower joined CNN in 2016 following four and half years at the Wall Street Journal. Based first in Chicago and then in Washington, D.C. he covered Boeing, aviation safety and the business of global aerospace. Before that, Ostrower was editor of the award-winning FlightBlogger for Flightglobal and Flight International Magazine covering the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and other new aircraft programs from 2007 to 2012. Ostrower, a Boston native, graduated from The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs with a bachelor's degree in Political Communication. He is based in Seattle.

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