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Aircraft IT Operations - February/March 2013

Author: Siow Litingtung
This article appears in Issue 8: the February/March 2013 edition of the Aircraft IT Operations eJournal. For your own free subscription to the eJournal - click on 'SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE' for full details.

Information saves Fuel and reduces Emissions - Etihad Airways Case Study

Mauricio J Arias, Program Manager - FOCOS (Fuel & Operations Cost Optimization System) Operations Logistics and Hassan Abouzeid, Data Analyst - Operations Logistics at Etihad Airways explain how they implemented an effective fuel savings program.
 


Identifying the need

Fuel represents Etihad Airways’ largest operational cost and mitigating the negative impact of volatile fuel prices on profitability is crucial for our business. Linked to these costs, the quest to improve the airline’s fuel optimisation strategy led Etihad Airways in 2007 to ask the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to carry out a full Fuel Efficiency Gap Analysis.

The IATA analysis results triggered the launch of a number of operational fuel efficiency initiatives, however once in action, Etihad Airways faced challenges identifying which initiatives were delivering savings, which ones required modification to become effective, and what additional initiatives would be needed. It became evident that the next step in unlocking the airline’s fuel savings potential would require a more sophisticated measurement solution. What was needed was a one-stop means of analysing all the details together and presenting them in a way that would enact change in our overall operational behaviours.

Making the right choice

It was very important to have a supplier that we could trust to deliver on the potentially large savings we believed could be realised. This was not an easy choice, as we knew that it had to take into account a number of factors to ensure we, Etihad Airways, could also deliver on the project. Our selection criteria for a solution was based on the ability to accurately measure post-production fuel consumption, identify inefficiencies in operational working procedures, and target areas for fuel savings.

As we worked through the tender process responses and began to interact with the suppliers, what became increasingly clear was the need for a company that had excellent industry experience and one which was aligned with our goals of getting the most from a fuel savings implementation strategy as quickly as possible, and without compromising the long-term goal of the project.

Beginning the journey

The Etihad Airways selection process identified a clear winner in the Optimized Systems and Solutions (OSyS) Fuel Management Solution (FMS). This vendor offerd the right blend of product, process and experienced personnel necessary to deliver our business objectives.

As a first step, we worked closely with the selected vendor in conducting a structured data analysis and working practice reviews to allow the project to quickly gain momentum. Through face-to-face collaboration, we were able to identify a key set of data parameters and then extract them from the airline’s back office for analysis using the FMS. We agreed on prioritising the existing initiatives we had already launched to maximise their benefits, and suggested other quick wins we could implement immediately. This approach established a solid working partnership from the onset.

 

We observed many different complications with data from our multiple sources, however, by working together, we were able to overcome these to ensure we had a complete data set, something that is vital in realising the full benefits of a fuel management solution.

Our relationship with the vendor developed throughout the project, and both teams’ combined experience and collaboration resulted in various solutions to the issues we encountered. For example, now the airline has a more consistent data set on which to base its fuel optimisation decisions.

The FMS implementation was conducted in a phased manner and the regular technical and management interaction provided clear visibility of the project’s progress against an aggressive delivery timescale. As we learnt more about the solution’s potential and about our own needs, we extended the scope of our requirements. Despite the changes, the solution was fully implemented within the agreed timescales.

On-site consultancy and training were also provided to maximise our use of the new solution and to equip the airline with the skills to be self-sustaining.

Additionally, we developed custom views within our FMS for executives, managers, finance department and pilot users; ensuring each can have a fresh and tailored perspective of our aircraft, fleet, trends, operational initiatives, efficiency factors and environmental initiatives.  We also worked with OSyS to take advantage of export functionality; allowing us to generate internal reports that give a consistent look and feel.

Moving to service and securing the benefits

To ensure a smooth transition from implementation to service, Etihad Airways worked collaboratively with the vendor, making sure that the solution was well publicised and that it had a high level of support within our organisation, which is a prerequisite for any successful change management activity. The OSyS Service Support Model has an established mechanism for capturing and addressing even the smallest query to resolution; and this was and is crucial in supporting our roll-out of the FMS.

As a result of the above engagement, Etihad Airways now understands the flexibility of this comprehensive solution and the on-going potential it presents for the airline. Indeed, within the first two months of service, we have been able to realise significant savings in fuel costs and we have also reduced emissions.

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