United Airlines will reduce fuel consumption and equivalent CO2 emissions through better operations, technology and engineering

On 12/04/2013, in Environment - Without hot air, by steve

ecoskies_unitedUnited Airlines is honoring Earth Month by announcing its new goal to save 85 million gallons of fuel in 2013, equivalent to 828,750 metric tons of CO2 or roughly $275 million dollars at current fuel prices. Fuel is the airline’s single largest expense and its primary focus environmentally, and the company has several initiatives in place that will allow it to achieve its fuel efficiency goal.

“We are committed to reducing our fuel consumption and our environmental footprint,” said United’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Smisek. “I am proud of the actions we take every day throughout the year that help shape a more sustainable future for our customers, our co-workers and the communities we serve.”

United has already improved its fuel efficiency by 32 percent since 1994 through programs such as improved flight planning, single engine taxiing, lighter products onboard, and use of ground power instead of the onboard auxiliary power unit to save fuel and reduce carbon emissions while aircraft are parked.

The airline is also investing in a modern, fuel-efficient fleet to replace less fuel-efficient aircraft. In 2012, United ordered 150 brand-new Boeing 737 narrowbody aircraft powered by fuel-efficient CFM engines. In addition to purchasing new aircraft, United is also improving the performance of its current fleet. The airline was the launch customer for the new Split Scimitar winglet, which is an advanced and improved winglet for the 737 Next-Gen aircraft and helps the aircraft consume up to 25 percent less fuel per seat than the 737-500 aircraft the company is retiring. United already has other winglets installed on more than 300 of its aircraft, including its entire Boeing 737 fleet and many of its 757 and 767 aircraft. Winglets reduce drag on the aircraft, ultimately reducing fuel burn and carbon emissions by up to five percent.

Click here to read the full article


The EU Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) – why the fuss?

On 11/03/2012, in Environment - Without hot air, by steve

All matters environmental are sensitive and aviation has been in the cross-hairs of the environmental lobby for a long time. Somehow the substantial improvements already made and those in the pipeline have not generated the level of interest they deserve. The fact that the still hopelessly inefficient air traffic management system in places like Europe is one of the biggest potential sources of new emission reduction has also been more or les ignored.

Not so the ETS… So what is the ETS?

This scheme makes it possible for companies that produce harmful emissions like CO2 to buy credits that allow them to continue their activities and continue spewing out the bad stuff up to the level of the credit they have purchased. The idea is that by making you pay for your bad habits, you will be motivated to mend your ways, i.e. improve your technology so that your activity becomes less polluting.

The airline industry, responsible for a mere 2 % of all industrial emissions, has been exempt from this scheme until 1 January 2012 and for good reason. After some initial hesitation and misunderstandings, the aviation industry did get its act together and in fact became one of the most ardent supporters of emission reduction. In fact, aviation was set by many experts as an example to follow by other industries in recognition of its worldwide efforts and common action plan.

One thing the airlines did not want was regional solutions to emission reduction… For companies flying essentially all over the world, diverging regional requirements and administrative regimes would be a nightmare that increased costs unnecessarily.

The natural forum to develop a worldwide solution for the reduction of aviation emission would have been ICAO but like so often in the past, progress was glacial, to say the least. The European Union lost its patience and announced that they would extend the ETS, already operational though of questionable effectiveness in other industries, to aviation also if no ICAO solution was forthcoming. This was the last thing the airlines wanted.

Not only is the ETS a purely regional solution, the way it was going to be applied to aviation would distort the market in all kinds of ways. I have written about this in the past so will not go into the details again here.

One thing is certain, the whole issue is turning into a perfect, albeit world wide, mess.

Click here to read the full article


Airbus to support FAA Greener Skies Initiative with ATM expertise

On 25/11/2011, in Environment - Without hot air, by steve

Airbus has been selected to provide Air Traffic Management (ATM) and Performance Based Navigation (PBN) expertise for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Greener Skies Initiative. As part of Boeing’s FAA System Engineering 2020 (SE-2020) team, Airbus will identify procedures which fully utilize aircraft precision navigation capabilities to reduce fuel burn, lower emissions and decrease noise.

The Greener Skies initiative seeks to improve ATM efficiency and to minimize the environmental impact on the ground and in the air through the expanded use of PBN including Required Navigation Performance (RNP), area navigation (RNAV), and Optimized Profile Descents (OPD).

The industry consortium includes Adacel, Airbus, Boeing, Cessna and Honeywell, and is tasked with establishing methods for the full implementation of PBN by utilizing advanced flight deck and Air Traffic Control (ATC) capabilities while analyzing new policies and procedures. Airbus subsidiary Quovadis will provide PBN consultancy and implementation expertise for the initiative. Seattle will be used as a key site to enable these initial advanced operational capabilities to be introduced into the US National Airspace System (NAS). Click here to read the full article


Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) for aviation needs major repair

On 27/06/2011, in Environment - Without hot air, by steve

When you drive on France’s motorways, you pay for the privilege. In return you get first class asphalt, nice rest areas and a means to cover the vast distances of that country safely and efficiently. When Austria introduced their road toll system, the money went to refurbishing their aging motorways and to building new ones. The result was an astonishing improvement to a road system already of a very high quality. But not all toll systems are this nice…

When the European Union’s Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) is unilaterally extended to aviation on 1 January 2012, it will cost the industry a cool 3.4 billion euro a year and possibly more if we include the negative impact in terms of global competitiveness. There is a global outcry and it looks like politicians in Europe have found a way to upset the rest of the world for no possible good to Europe or anyone else.

Had it been so that the money gathered from aviation under the ETS would be reinvested in aviation related environmental projects, the case would have been very different. Nobody would be cheering and some aspects of this fatally flawed rule would still need to be repaired but at least it would have a semblance of common sense and would do some good for the environment.

As it is now proposed, the aviation part of the ETS is nothing but a new tax that will do nothing to protect the environment. Politicians in Europe usually find it very hard to agree on anything but they love taxes. They love ETS. Originally it was proposed that income from ETS should be reserved for environmental projects alone. The idea was never accepted… of course.

So, what is the big row about?

Click here to read the full article


Believe it or not…

On 06/09/2010, in Environment - Without hot air, by pbn

While a lot of people, including the environmental lobby, seem to have some difficulty in believing that aviation contributes a mere 2 % of the emissions thought to be responsible for global warning, the same people and many others apparently have no problem with believing the utter nonsense painted on the side of some electric cars.

Check out the latest offering from Citroen. Zero g CO2 boasts the logo and no doubt a lot of environment conscious folks will go and buy it on the strength of this message. Politicians will also not miss the opportunity to get photographed beside such a car, lending it added legitimacy.

Quite apart from the utility of such a vehicle (and even Citroen admits that this is just an early try, far from perfect), the problem with this kind of claim is that it is simply not true!

Such a car carries a load of batteries which need to be recharged. At the normal rate, this takes 6 hours and the car will run 120 km on a single charge. That equate to about 2 hours of running time.

True, the vehicle itself will not produce emissions while operating or charging… but the power station will, and lots of it too. Charging batteries is a notoriously inefficient operation and producing the electricity needed for charging is anything but environment friendly.

OK, we could assume that electricity is coming from nuclear power stations… or wind turbines… but the former are not exactly favorites either and the latter are far from having replaced power stations running on coal or gas.

In other words, Zero CO2 splashed on the side of any vehicle is a blatant untruth.

It would be much more honest to say (if they have to say anything) that there is zero CO2 emission locally and may be even paint a few smokestacks after the claim to put things into context.

Of course this is a far less exciting message commercially or politically, but far more truthful. Probably that is the problem with it, come to think of it.

Aircraft do not have inscriptions on them saying that they produce only 2 % of the harmful emissions but if we want to be believed may be we should take a clue from the makers of electric cars…


The rise and fall of an alien industrial spy

On 11/08/2010, in Environment - Without hot air, by cleo

As soon as teleporting was perfected for the military in a far corner of the galaxy, the first assignment for the new system was to send an agent to Earth to check out the source of incessant radio noise and strange video images alternately showing humans killing each other or pairing in strange ways often involving acrobatics that the far off aliens could not fathom. Mr. Fa’reye’s (a name quite impossible to pronounce for Earthlings) was selected as the agent for the mission. He was instructed to observe and provide a comprehensive report.

When Mr. Fa’reye’s arrived in Earth orbit, he was amazed to discover the incredible amount of junk that was floating around… his teleport capsule needed all of its computing power to dodge the obstacles. His first scan showed what he discovered were parliaments where people apparently went to discuss things which were subsequently mostly ignored by most other people. A lot of talk was about the environment and it seemed this was a subject that could actually make many of the two legged creatures in the parliaments quite passionate. They seemed to be saving their planet from some future catastrophe… They did not seem to realize that it was already happening. But, sure enough, they voted to spend a lot of money on future projects with doubtful outcome while very little if anything was being spent on mitigating the damage already being caused by their changing climate.

To Mr. Fa’reye’s’ amazement, people were also being duped by something they seemed to call hybrid cars which, apparently, they thought were not producing any harmful emissions. Power stations belching smoke as they produced the electricity for charging those hybrids were usually out of site and the people buying those cars did not seem to connect the smoke with their “emission free” vehicles.

On his last scan, he spotted a company making airplanes and what he discovered there was truly incredible on a world that seemed to be so hung up on protecting their environment.

Click here to read the full article


When winglets turn green – Continental flies on bio-fuel

On 09/08/2010, in Environment - Without hot air, by steve

It is more than a year ago now, but on 7 January 2009 Continental Airlines was the first US airline to conduct a bio-fuel test flight with one of their Boeing 737-800s. One engine was running on a mixture of traditional jet fuel, algae and jatropha oil.

The 73 got a special paint job for the occasion, proclaiming the arrival of “eco-skies” on the side of the fuselage and winglets sporting a bright green color.

Continental was blasted by wary environmentalists for the extra paint job but they were reassured that the paint used was of the high solids kind and the surface treatment underneath was also of a modern, chromium-free type, both as environmentally friendly as they come.

N76516 had been spotted in its new livery all over the US but there is scant news on any follow up to this initial test.

Getting the new paint job


Volcanic ash and jet engines do not mix

On 27/05/2010, in Environment - Without hot air, by steve

Although the following pictures have appeared on several sites already, we thought it would be interesting to provide them also on Roger-Wilco. They show clearly what happens when a jet engine flies through a volcanic ash cloud.

The plane is a Cessna Citation that flew out of Germany and they escaped because the other engine kept running, even if with reduced power.

The burns are due to hot air being blocked from escaping as the cooling ducts were clogged by the ash. Interestingly the stator seems to have failed rather than the rotor.


Click here to read the full article


Volcanic Ash – the Rationale for Removing the 60Nm buffer zone

On 12/05/2010, in Environment - Without hot air, by phil

The UK CAA has reviewed the current knowledge on the effects of volcanic ash and the accuracy of the forecasting models. The document describing the rationale for removing the buffer zone can be found here.

This is good news for the aviation industry, not only because it will reduce some of the restrictions that have been placed on flights but, more importantly, because it shows the increasing scientific knowledge that has been gained. While it states that the ash concentration that can cause engine shut down is known with reasonable accuracy, it also admits that, at the lower levels, ‘the exact rate of change of damage with ash concentrations is not known’. Clearly more scientific work is needed in this area.

However, my main reason for optimism is the work being done to determine the validity of the forecast models. This has been done using flight test data gained from specially instrumented aircraft (Do228 and BAe146) during flights in and around the No-Fly Zones. This data has also been correlated with ground based LIDARs and Met Office weather balloons.


Flying AIRE – the pilot’s view

On 30/04/2010, in Environment - Without hot air, by eric

AIRE (Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions) is a joint initiative between the European Commission and the FAA. It is the green component of the SESAR programme. In 2009, 1,152 flight trials in operational conditions were carried out on the European side.

Claude Godel was the Pilot in Command of the first complete green transatlantic flight, operated by Air France on 6 April from Paris-Charles de Gaulle to Miami.

Captain Godel and part of his crew on the green transatlantic flight

In a first reaction after this green flight, Captain Godel describes it from a pilot’s perspective, “The AIRE flight is the almost perfect flight for a pilot. On a normal flight you never know how you will be incorporated in the traffic but you are sure that you will fly level at non optimal altitudes, have to beg ATC for better speed, better lateral track. In one word, you spend your time in negotiating or accepting non optimal compromises. The AIRE flight needs more pre-flight preparation but, once off-block, the pilot can expect to fly the best track from end to end, at the best speed and the best altitude. Isn’t that the pilot’s dream?”

He further describes the principle of green flights as a virtuous circle as an optimised flight path leads to shorter flight time, less fuel burn and CO2 emissions which in return reduces costs and leaves fewer place for contingencies. The pilot can thus satisfy the aspirations of modern passengers and himself finds new pleasure and satisfaction in his job.

During the approximately nine hours flight, enhanced green procedures were used to improve the aircraft’s energy efficiency. These procedures, applied at each flight stage and coordinated among all project participants, reduce fuel consumption (and hence carbon dioxide emissions) throughout the flight, from taxiing at Paris-Charles de Gaulle to arrival on the parking stand in Miami. Air France estimates that applying these optimisations to all Air France long-haul flights to and from North America, would result in a cut of CO2 emissions by 135,000 metric tons per year, with fuel savings of 43,000 metric tons.

For more information on AIRE, click here.

This article is reprinted with the kind permission of the author, Eric Platteau, Senior Communication & Public Affairs Specialist at the SESAR Joint Undertaking.


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