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They spent 20 years developing this aircraft engine. Can it change the future of aviation?

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United Technologies

At any given moment, there are about 5,000 planes flying above the United States.

87,000 flights take place per day. Millions of flights per year. And that's just the United States.

With that volume of air traffic, needless to say, a new type of aircraft engine — one that produces 75% less noise for those on the ground and burns 16% less fuel — is a huge deal for both people and the planet.


It’s called the PurePower® Geared Turbofan™ engine, and after 20 years in development at Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies, it’s going to change the game of aviation.

See for yourself what makes this engine so special:

So what’s the secret? The basic concept is this: Pratt & Whitney’s engine is designed with a high bypass ratio, meaning that 12 times the amount of airflow passes around the engine’s core versus going through the core itself, which makes the engine more efficient overall.

Higher efficiency means less fuel burn, and less fuel burn means fewer emissions.

Still not impressed? Here's the kicker: This new aircraft engine reduces annual carbon dioxide emissions by 3,600 metric tons per plane.

At a time when our environment is in serious need of some tender loving care, cutting our carbon footprint in any way we can is more important than ever.

But even we'll admit that 3,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide is pretty hard to visualize. So what does that actually mean?

It's the equivalent of 766 cars being taken off the road for an entire year.

Calculated differently, that's 279,574 cars being taken off the road for a day — only a few thousand cars shy of the daily traffic crossing from New Jersey into New York City.

What if nearly all the cars driving into NYC simply didn’t show up one day? The resulting reduction of carbon dioxide would be equivalent to a single PurePower engine.

Image via iStock.

It's also equivalent to more than 4.6 million households using absolutely no electricity for 24 hours.

About 4,660,000 households, actually.

That’s like if everyone who lives in New York City (3 million households) Los Angeles (1.3 million households), and Las Vegas (213,000 households) used no electricity whatsoever for 24 hours.

Image via iStock.

It's even equivalent to 5,419 people going vegetarian for a whole year.

Typical meat eaters have a bigger carbon footprint than vegetarians — even those who only eat the USDA recommended 0.21 pound of meat per day (or less).

Have you ever considered going vegetarian for a year to reduce your impact on the environment? How about convincing 5,418 people to do it with you? Your collective impact would equal that of just one PurePower engine.

Image via iStock.

Chances are, commuters aren’t just going to suddenly stop driving into NYC. But that’s why innovations like this aircraft engine are so important.

As Pratt & Whitney Engineer Monica Dujic explains, “There is a future in aviation that can help the environment ... and the people around you.”

Now that is something worth celebrating.

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