As passengers struggle to obtain refunds, airlines promoting their environmental credentials is likely to seem a distraction. The only sustainability a lot of passengers are worried about is that of the carriers’ themselves as they fight for refunds for cancelled flights. Nevertheless, Etihad Airways has continued with its sustainability agenda during the Corvid-19 pandemic, and is testing a range of initiatives during the wind-down and suspension of its scheduled passenger services. The airline highlighted some of its continuing activities in a video released yesterday to mark Earth Day 2020.
Some examples the airline has promoted are its green-themed B787 aircraft which, when it was delivered from Boeing’s North Carolina assembly plant, was fuelled with a 30 per cent blend of sustainable aviation fuel, refined from agricultural waste. Boeing engineers used the delivery flight to research new fuel efficiency measures, based on real time data from the aircraft, to maximise efficiency and minimise emissions by providing customised data to the pilots.
The work also involves Boeing, GE Aviation, EuroControl and others to test and implement measures to reduce fuel consumption, carbon emissions and noise.
Recently, on Ireland’s national day, the signature Etihad Greenliner operated an optimised roundtrip flight between Abu Dhabi and Dublin, reducing the usual journey time by 40 minutes, cutting fuel consumption by 800 kilograms and reducing carbon emissions by three tonnes over a standard Boeing 787 flight on that route.
The sustainable performance of this Boeing 787 flight was also measured against the same flight one year prior, which was operated with a less efficient aircraft type. Compared to the 2019 flight, the 2020 service operated with eight tonnes less fuel and a staggering 26 tonne reduction in carbon emissions.
Etihad has also implemented a range of other sustainability measures, including the use of data to determine the optimal volumes of potable water for aircraft toilets and washrooms, and ‘taxi fuel’ to power the aircraft on the ground. By customising volumes of both, the airline is reducing significantly the weight of aircraft on many routes, helping to reduce fuel burn and emissions.
During the grounding of its scheduled passenger flights, Etihad has also been testing single-engine taxi-in of Boeing 787 aircraft without using the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit (APU), again with more sustainable outcomes.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “In these challenging times, and beyond Covid-19, our response to the climate change crisis will not be neglected. Earlier this year, we pledged a target of net zero emissions by 2050, and to halve our 2019 net emission levels by 2035. Through the Etihad Greenliner Programme, we remain committed to reducing our impact on the environment, in collaboration with partners across the aviation industry.”