Etihad Airways managed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 148,000 tonnes last year as it continued to implement fuel-saving initiatives that seek to improve the environmental impact of air travel. The savings are equivalent to approximately 1,236 flights between Abu Dhabi and Barcelona or the removal of over 10,200 cars from the road.
Fuel consumption is influenced by several factors such as air traffic management, weight carried and how the aircraft is flown. Last year, the airlines B777-200s were retired in favour of the most fuel efficient commercial aircraft in operation, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, due to its lightweight composite structure.
Captain Sulaiman Yaqoobi , VP Flight Operations, Etihad Airways said: “By increasing collaboration on a monthly basis within the airline’s Flight Operations, Network Operations, Ground Operations areas and Etihad Engineering, Etihad saw noticeable improvements to its fuel savings and emissions profile, a top agenda for a sustainable airline.”
Etihad pilots play a critical role in the airline’s environmental initiatives, significantly increasing savings by analysing insights and flight data to effectively apply key fuel efficiency procedures. Utilising a single engine to taxi the aircraft in and out on the tarmac reduces fuel burn. To reduce drag and conserve fuel, pilots select lower flap settings.
Statistics on reduced engine taxiing as well as reduced flap landings have demonstrated record-breaking results. The achieved savings equated to saving fuel for approximately 1,440 hours of flying time, saving 7,900 tonnes of fuel and eliminating 24,900 tonnes of carbon dioxide. A new app has been introduced to all pilots which provides up-to-date information on current fuel-saving achievements as well as saving opportunities for every flight they are performing.
To manage fuel uplift, aviation regulation dictates a contingency of three per cent should be carried. Approved by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) last year, Etihad Airways adopted a new fuel planning methodology which allows the airline to deviate from the three per cent by demonstrating that analysis of historical statistical data produced a more accurate calculation of actual fuel required.
Several weight reduction projects have also been completed, including a carpet retrofit across the airline’s fleet to a lighter option, the refining of catering loads based on the actual number of passengers on board, and controlling the amount of potable water loaded based on actual requirement.
An improved engine washing procedure performed at regular intervals to remove environmental deposits, which increase engine workload, also improved efficiency by as much as 0.5 per cent.
Etihad operates a programme of innovative thinking devoted to sustainability and carbon reduction, refined through continuous operational adjustments as well as long-term projects such as aviation biofuel development.
In January 2019, Etihad Airways flew the world’s first commercial flight using locally produced sustainable fuel made from plants grown in saltwater, the flagship project of the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium.