Conserving fuel in aviation is important for two key reasons. Firstly, over the past few years, fuel has represented approximately 20% of an airline’s total costs, making it the biggest cost in any airline balance sheet.
Secondly, under the EU ETS (Emission Trading System), all airlines operating in Europe (European and non-European alike) are required to monitor, report and verify their emissions, and to surrender allowances against those emissions. This is to provide airlines with an incentive to reduce their carbon pollution. As the aviation industry recovers from 2020, airlines will still carry a financial burden for the months to come. Let’s see how we can help our airline save money, as well as protect the environment!
From 2013 to 2019, carbon emissions associated with commercial aviation increased by 29% while passenger transport increased by 85%. The fact that the number of passengers transported increases more than the carbon emissions is good news, but the aviation industry needs to do more.
Reducing fuel burn is critical for the future of the airline industry, especially after the pandemic and the economic crisis. According to a recent study conducted by the International Council on Clean Transportation, there is a huge disparity in fuel efficiency between airlines – up to a 50% difference on transatlantic routes. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a strategic business activity that can boost the sustainability of the aviation industry and help protect the environment.
Using the latest technologies and big data, airlines can improve fuel efficiency without sacrificing on-time performance. With Green Operating Procedures and other strategies in maintenance and engineering (for example engine washing, aircraft washing, avoidance of wasted weights, use lighter materials, etc) airlines can reach their fuel efficiency goals. In parallel, this requires airlines to train flight crews on Green Operating Procedures, and provide the motivation, information, and tools crews need to make the right decisions.
Efficient fuel consumption can be approached from two main points of view. On the one hand, actions can be taken strategically by the various departments of an airline. We could call these passive measures. On the other hand, direct actions can be taken by the flight crew to reduce fuel consumption. These are called active measures, and you would be amazed at how much fuel quantity can be saved in average per flight (see below!).
Let’s look at both options:
Flight crews need to be aware that they play a fundamental role in saving fuel. They must understand how they can influence this process and have adequate tools and training so that they can apply them. This includes training flight crews on Green Operating Procedures applications.
Below are procedures that can be taken to maximize fuel economy, with an indication of how much fuel can be saved:
Efficient use of APU: If possible, delay the start up according to departure schedule
Delayed Engine Start Up during long push-back: On many aircrafts, single-engine taxi out has become the norm, which means the engine start-up sequence is significantly shorter. On long pushbacks (or pushbacks with slow unmanned electric Mototoks), delay engine start to save fuel.
Single-engine Taxi Out: This procedure could save about 80 kgs of fuel when applied on a short/medium haul airplane.
Taxiing-out with one pack if passenger comfort is guaranteed and depending on cabin temperature.
De-rated (or flex) take-off thrust setting: although this increases the fuel consumption, the savings on engine life and maintenance do more than offset the increased consumption.
Rolling Take-off, if conditions allow and safety is guaranteed, can save up to 7 kgs of fuel!
Flap setting: on Airbus aircrafts, the fuel increase with Flap 2 is 4 kgs and with Flap 3 about 10 kgs.
Climb and Cruise profile and cost index: for example, flying 2000 feet lower or higher from the optimum level means an increased fuel burn of about 2%.
Requesting short-cuts from air traffic control.
Linear holdings: when holding is announced by ATC in advance, try to coordinate to reduce speed to minimum to save fuel by performing fewer level-holdings.
Descent and continuous approaches: inserting the descent wind and planning for a continuous descent could save up to 40 kgs.
Landing Flap Setting: on Airbus aircraft, planning for a Flap 3 landing (rather than Flap Full landing) could save between 15 and 30 kgs depending on the Airbus type.
Idle reverse: this can save up to 15 kgs depending on aircraft type.
One engine taxi-in can save around 20 to 25 kgs while delaying APU start if practicable could save about 2 kgs in a standard airport.
Reduce weight of seats, IFE (in-flight entertainment), catering, duty- free, newspapers, other contingency/reserve items, diligent cleaning of cabin before every morning flight.
Cargo: reduce weight of ULD (Unit Load Devices).
Optimize potable water quantity according to the type and length of the flight and optimize lavatory servicing.
Reduce weight of paint,
Engine: Improve SFC (specific fuel consumption),
APU: Improve SFC,
Aircraft: Rigging and regular maintenance,
Aircraft: Modifications, improvements and retrofits (such as sharklets),
Aircraft repainting new technologies.
Flight Operations Department:
Reduce crew-related weight (such as crew-bags, books, maps), implementation of EFBs on all fleets,
Smart performance calculation software.
Ops and Flight Planning:
Accurate planning of routes and weather
Accurate stand planning to reduce taxi
Optimal CG loading
New and efficient aircrafts and engines
Collaboration with authorities to improve routes.
What If We Don’t Improve?
If we do not improve our fuel efficiency during flights, we won’t be able to reach the UE long-term strategy which aims to climate-neutral air transport by 2050. Human capital is the most important asset of any company, especially in an airline. Airline policies must include a fuel-efficient strategy to achieve that goal and involve all employees. Put simply, we must be proactive regarding fuel efficiency to help the future of airlines.
welcome aboard the new airside
We took our community to the next level with an elevated look, innovative features, and new tools.