Air France and Airbus claim the world’s greenest flight after combining biofuel and ATM technologies
(photo: Air France)
Thu 13 Oct 2011 – Air France today completed a flight today from Toulouse to Paris-Orly that achieved a fuel efficiency of 2.2 litres per passenger-100km, cutting in half the CO2 emitted compared to a normal flight. The Airbus A321 aircraft commercial flight was powered by a 50 per cent blend of biofuel, believed to be used cooking oil supplied by Dutch aviation biofuels company SkyNRG, in each engine – the maximum blend permitted. In addition, optimised air traffic management (ATM) procedures were employed, including a Continuous Descent Approach (CDA). Combining the use of biofuel and efficient ATM allowed the flight to claim CO2 emissions of just 54 grams per passenger-kilometre. The best performing airlines average over 100 grams per passenger-km.
“We are proud of the success achieved by this innovative project, which is a synthesis of our many initiatives in the area of sustainable development,” commented Bertrand Lebel, Air France’s Executive Vice President, Organisation and Corporate Social Responsibility. “This fully-optimised green flight is another proof of Air France’s commitment to combine air transport growth with controlled CO2 emissions.”
Air France says that onboard weight reduction also helped contribute to the fuel and emissions savings of the flight, which was equipped with a new seat that weighs 40% less than a conventional seat. As well as helping to save 1,700 tonnes of fuel a year, the airline claims it is more comfortable and provides increased leg room. In addition, the weight of catering equipment is being reduced by an average of 15% annually during the period 2006 to 2012.
Air France joined with Airbus on today’s project. Airbus has set up a new subsidiary called Airbus ProSky that is focused on driving higher operational ATM efficiencies through more direct routings, which promise around 10% less aircraft fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, as well as noise reductions around airports.
“This flight is the perfect example of the Airbus global approach towards continuously reducing aviation’s CO2 footprint,” said Andrea Debbane, Head of Environmental Affairs at Airbus. “This is not just a biofuel flight but the first flight that really puts into practice elements in the Airbus roadmap: biofuels, optimised ATM and green navigation.”
The use of CDAs, in which the aircraft descends continuously rather than in steps and requiring significantly less engine thrust, is becoming more widespread as a way of reducing fuel burn.
In addition to Air France, SkyNRG has now supplied its used cooking oil blended fuel to KLM, Finnair and Thomson Airways.