Green Air
Airlines Look to Software Solutions to Help Improve Fuel Efficiency
October 2, 2012
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  • The majority of airlines are not tracking their fuel performance accurately and when you consider fuel represents around 40% of their operating costs, that is remarkable, says Ian Britchford, Director of Fuel Saving at ETS Aviation. However, this is beginning to change and his company is one a of a number of providers of fuel efficiency and data management software that have recently been selected by airlines to help optimise fuel usage and also manage EU ETS reporting requirements. During the summer, low-cost carrier easyJet has chosen ETS Aviation’s Aviation Footprinter emissions data management system, whilst Virgin Atlantic has contracted with Rolls-Royce subsidiary OSyS for its Fuel Management Solution. Zurich-based Aviaso, meanwhile, reports that Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium has achieved fuel savings of 2.1% over the past eighteen months since using its fuel efficiency software.

    Many airlines have already improved their fuel efficiency through ‘picking the low-hanging fruit’ and implementing obvious initiatives, says Rudolf Christen, CEO of Aviaso. “We’re not going to blindly promise 5% or more improvements to an airline,” he says. “Such improvements are possible but they depend on the level where an airline starts from. However, our experience with several airlines shows that it is possible to achieve significant savings even if an airline already starts at a high level.

    “The key to further savings is to really understand the factors influencing the fuel consumption. This means being smart with your fuel-relevant data. Typically, the data required for a fuel efficiency program is available somewhere in the different IT systems of an airline. The challenge is to identify in which IT system the data is stored and how to retrieve it.”

    Lode Ketele, General Manager of Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium, says the carrier had already significantly improved its fuel efficiency before it started using Aviaso’s software. “If you are on a good level it is not easy to get additional fuel savings,” he explains. “However, in the current economic environment it is key to further reduce fuel costs and at the same time lower the environmental footprint.”

    Adds Captain Carl-Philippe Combes, the carrier’s Fuel Specialist: “We realised that we needed two things to get our fuel efficiency improvement programme to the next level. On the one hand we needed reliable information on how we really use our fuel, and on the other, we needed to be able to quickly track the progress of our improvement programme.”

    Expressing the airline’s satisfaction with the Aviaso software, he continues: “It gives us the required transparency and its helps our fuel conservation initiatives. Additionally, it allows us to provide feedback to our crews and ground personnel, which has a strong motivating effect.”

    Combes says overall fuel burn on a per 100 RPK basis has improved 4.5% since the software was installed in early 2011. The software allows the airline to analyse the different factors influencing fuel efficiency and allocate which improvements are due to the improvement programme and which are down to other reasons. It has calculated that 2.1% can be attributed to the programme and the remaining 2.4% to factors such as improved seat-loads and network adjustments.

    Last year saw the launch of ETS Aviation’s Aviation FuelSaver fuel efficiency programme that also includes a fuel saving assessment service. Ian Britchford says the company helps operators assess their current operation, identify further potential savings and gather, upload and process the required data so that they can track and report on the savings based on accurate data.

    “Our fuel-saving assessments even deliver results before we set up the software tracking. Across the airlines we have worked with during the past 10 months, we have uncovered an average of 1.5% in potential fuel savings per airline, representing millions of dollars,” he claims.

    The fuel performance tracking system has been designed for all sizes of aircraft operators that want a sophisticated yet easy-to-use software system, access to fuel efficiency experts and won’t cost a fortune, says CEO David Carlisle.

    The programme has attracted the attention of Singapore and Australia based Tiger Airways, which selected Aviation FuelSaver in June.

    “Tiger Airways operates on a low-cost business model that focuses on streamlining operational costs and improving efficiency,” announced Stewart Adams, Managing Director for Tiger Airways Singapore. “Fuel cost is a significant percentage of our operating costs, so we are happy to have our business goals aligned by employing ETS Aviation’s cutting-edge fuel performance tracking system.”

    ETS Aviation was formed just three years ago and now boasts 130 aircraft operator clients around the world. As the company name implies, its initial aim was to support operators in coping with the impending demands of the EU ETS carbon emissions data management and reporting requirements. It consequently launched the Aviation Footprinter system and ETS Support Service in 2009.

    The latest to join the ranks of Aviation Footprinter customers is easyJet, Europe’s second-largest low-cost airline, which operates around 193 Airbus single-aisle aircraft.

    “Having completed two years of reporting and verification of carbon emissions, we spent considerable time evaluating various options to replace our internal Excel-based system,” says Taylor Bradbury, easyJet’s Aircraft Operations Support Manager. “We selected Aviation Footprinter because it is a well-designed and cost-effective solution that maximises the efficiency and accuracy of data capture whilst seamlessly reporting our CO2 emissions.

    “With over 1,200 departures per day from 135 airports across Europe, the key advantages of using the system are the ease of error checking, identification of data gaps and the auto reporting functionality, plus we can import emissions directly into the Environmental Agency’s [the UK’s administrative authority for the EU ETS] portal. This will result in a significant saving in man-hours and provides us with a scalable solution for the future.”

    Andy Taylor of easyJet’s carbon emissions verifier Bureau Veritas Certification says the system and its remote data access function can reduce the amount of time needed to spend at an aircraft operator’s office and, in certain circumstances, may even negate the requirement for a site visit altogether. “This not only cuts our own carbon footprint but potentially reduces disruption to the auditee,” he adds.

    Meanwhile, long-haul carrier Virgin Atlantic has selected the Optimized Systems and Solutions (OSyS) Fuel Management Solution (FMS) to optimise its operational fuel usage and also manage EU ETS reporting commitments.

    The airline’s Director of Operations, Safety and Security, Corneel Koster, said the partnership would deliver a step change in fuel management.

    “At Virgin Atlantic, we are passionate about improving our fuel efficiency and reducing our carbon footprint and have had initiatives in place for many years to help achieve those aims,” he said. “The OSyS solution is a fantastic way of bringing business intelligence on large numbers of data points together in an easy-to-use, single source and we are looking forward to identifying and driving forward many more fuel-saving opportunities.”

    OSyS, a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce, says its FMS is suitable for aircraft operations across all market sectors, being designed to be flexible, scalable and with the capability to expand as fuel management maturity increases.