Qantas to centralise fuel programs to further boost fuel efficiency

Qantas, Australia’s largest domestic and international airline, will centralise its fuel programs and use cutting-edge software to boost fuel efficiency to industry-leading levels. Qantas recently signed an agreement to use GE Aviation’s Flight Efficiency Services to help monitor, analyse and modify its fuel use as well as design Required Navigation Performance procedures at airports across its network.

Alan Milne, head of environment and fuel at Qantas, said the airline was also pulling together fuel efficiency programs in separate business units into one central team within the corporate area.

“One of the reasons we’re doing that is to ensure we’re sharing all the benefits across the air operator certificates appropriately — we’re not working in our little business units and it’s a closed shop,’’ he said.

GE’s software solution is a key enabler for the Qantas program, Milne said. It would be able to draw on flight operations quality assurance data, traditionally used as part of Qantas’s safety performance reporting and some additional data streams, to analyse operational performance.

GE has provided versions of this service to other airlines. However, it has never been done to the extent covered by the Qantas agreement, Milne said. Some of the hundreds of parameters collected for the program will be sampled at a frequency of up to one parameter per second, he added.

“From a safety perspective, we use that data to measure if pilots are landing long or at a higher rate of descent than we like — those sorts of safety parameters,’’ Milne said. “But now we’re going to be able to manipulate that data seriously like we’ve never been able to before, to look pointedly at operational efficiencies — are we flying the shortest track miles that we can?’’

The airline has more than 100 fuel saving projects under way, ranging from single-engine taxiing to use of auxiliary power units, weight initiatives and use of ground power.

“The whole fuel program is lots of little gains. The low-hanging fruit has gone but we now look at programs that can save as little as 70 kilos of fuel per flight,” he said.

Qantas’ fuel program has saved 65 million kilograms over the past two financial years — the equivalent of 210,000 tonnes of CO2, or 83,000 cars off the road for a year.

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