Middle Eastern Carrier
01 Feb 2019
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Sector: Civil aviation
Size: Medium flag carrier
Rolls-Royce began working with an Asian national airline to help the company gain better control of its fuel costs. The airline had experimented with data analytics, but was yet to reap the full benefits of data-driven fuel efficiencies.
Rolls-Royce consultants worked closely with the Fuel Manager to identify the data required to begin analysing the airline’s fuel consumption and implement the necessary back office changes to obtain that data stream.
Soon after the data began flowing, Rolls-Royce was able to recommend three initiatives to improve the airline’s fuel performance.
The first initiative focused on reducing the amount of unplanned fuel carried per flight. The airline’s pilots tended to take additional fuel far beyond the journey, taxiing, contingency, holding and diversion fuel specified in the flight plan. This was having a significant impact on fuel consumption, with the additional fuel adding substantial weight to each flight.
Fuel carried is always at the discretion of the pilot. Having alerted the airline to the potential saving, Rolls-Royce met with the customer’s chief pilots to present the recommendations, and field any questions they had. Giving them a qualified Rolls-Royce expert to discuss this helped provide reassurance that the recommendations were made by an appropriately experienced team.
Rolls-Royce also prepared reports showing six months’ worth of real flight data for individual routes, to reassure the airline’s pilots that the flight plans contained way more than the fuel they’d need for any flight.
This initiative is currently saving the airline 36 tonnes in fuel per month.
The second initiative involved reduced engine taxiing in (RETI) at the company’s hub airport. Taxiing in on reduced engines (one engine for twin-engine craft, two for four) can result in significant fuel savings.
After certifying that all flights to the hub airport would be suitable for RETI – 50% of all arrivals the airline undertakes – Rolls-Royce worked with the Fuel Manager to advise pilots on the potential benefits.
At present, approximately 45% of eligible arrivals are operated under RETI, saving 95 tonnes of fuel per month for the airline. Rolls-Royce is working to make RETI viable at other destinations for the airline, and collaborating with the Safety Manager to explore how processing QAR data may allow better tracking of RETI use, and more targeted implementation support.
The final initiative was established after the Rolls-Royce team spotted an anomaly in the airline’s data. Flights were often consuming less fuel than expected, which was tracked to discrepancies between the flight plan and the actual cargo carried by aircraft.
The airline was using accurate zero fuel weight figures to build the flight plans based on expected cargo, but these figures were not adjusted on the occasions when the planned cargo was not loaded. When this happened, the aircraft took off with more fuel than was necessary.
Rolls-Royce’s engineering expertise meant a solution was identified rapidly, while its experience of airline operations allowed a practical plan for change to be implemented. The airline now reprocesses flight plans closer to take off, to allow for short notice cargo adjustments. This saves the customer 18 tonnes of fuel per month.
These three initiatives alone are saving the airline 150 tonnes of fuel per month – equivalent to $810,000 per year in fuel costs (IATA Fuel Price Analysis, September 2016).
Rolls-Royce is working closely with the Fuel Manager and other personnel at the airline to trace, identify and implement more potential fuel savings to further improve its fuel cost efficiency.