An initiative originally designed to ensure a clean look to the Etihad fleet has proven to have significant environmental benefits.

The trials of “Permagard”, a polymer coating applied to the exterior of Etihad’s aircraft has demonstrated significant savings in washing water and cleaning fluids, as well as a potential improvement in fuel efficiency from reduced drag on the aircraft. As a result Etihad has now committed to having its entire fleet treated with this clear coating.

The Permagard treatment helps to provide protection to the aircraft surface, reflecting dirt and dust from the surface, so aircraft need to be washed less often. The treatment also eliminates the need for strong cleaning agents, which can be replaced by more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Etihad estimates water savings of 10 million litres – or 75 per cent – in 2010 from reduced cleaning of its aircraft, as well as a 96 per cent reduction in cleaning fluid – from 50,000 litres to just 2,000. Anticipated fuel efficiency improvements as a result of reduced drag during flight as a result of the Permagard coating are currently being quantified.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive, said: “With water scarcity a key global and regional concern, we are proud to commit to this initiative. Etihad operates one of the youngest and most fuel efficient aircraft fleets in the world, and is actively looking at ways we can harness technology for greater fuel efficiency and environmental benefit, as we have done with Permagard.”