Singapore Airlines has completed a test flight employing a number of eco-friendly measures, achieving a 6 per cent fuel saving and a reduction in carbon emissions of more than 33 tonnes.
SIA recently partnered with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) to operate the demonstration passenger flight SQ11 from LA to Singapore.
The B747-400, which departed Los Angeles International airport on January 31, reaching Singapore via Tokyo this morning (February 2), marked the CAAS’s agreement to join the Asia and South Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (ASPIRE), which began on February 1.
The flight is the first multi-sector demonstration green flight to be carried out under the ASPIRE programme, which aims to promote environmental actions in the region.
Singapore Airlines’ senior vice-president of flight operations, Gerard Yeap, said: “The route an aircraft takes, the altitude at which it flies and the weather it encounters all affect the amount of fuel it burns and the carbon dioxide emitted. Managing this effectively and in real time is therefore very important, for the operating carrier and the environment.”
Prior to the flight, the aircraft underwent a special engine wash programme to optimise fuel efficiency. The airframe was also polished to minimise drag and, to ensure that no more fuel was carried on board than necessary, the amount was fine-tuned 30 minutes before to ensure a better match with the actual aircraft take-off weight.
After take-off, the aircraft then made an unrestricted climb, which allowed it to reach its optimum cruising altitude. The bulk of the fuel savings, however, came from using a User Preferred Route (UPR) generated from the flight planning system Lido/Flight from Lufthansa Systems.
Yeap said: “Based on the latest weather at hand, the UPR is the most efficient route for the aircraft to fly on compared to an existing pre-determined route. By doing so, we were able to achieve these impressive fuel savings and emissions reductions.”
In addition, the plane made a smooth uninterrupted descent and approach to the runway, instead of the normal step-descent approach and, upon landing, brakes were applied to slow the aircraft instead of full reverse thrust, and as it was taxiing to its parking gate, one of the four engines was shut down to further conserve fuel. A timesaving of 30 minutes was also made to total flight time.
“This ASPIRE flight demonstrates that substantial fuel savings and reductions in carbon emissions can be achieved when stakeholders in the aviation industry all work together,” Yeap said. “Singapore Airlines is committed to playing our part for the environment. We will continue to work with governments, regulatory authorities, manufacturers and suppliers with the aim of a sustainable future for the industry,” he added.
Yap Ong Heng, director-general for the CAAS, said: “This flight was a collaborative effort requiring a high level of co-operation among three air navigation service providers in the US, Japan and Singapore, and Singapore Airlines, to demonstrate that an aircraft flying on its most optimal route can achieve significant reductions in fuel consumption and carbon emissions.”
SIA’s senior executive vice-president of operations and planning, Bey Soo Khiang, said: “The experience gained will not only set benchmarks in terms of best practices, but also help to encourage responsible environmental performance in the air transport industry.
“Even though we have a very young and modern fleet, we continue to adopt best industry practices to further improve fuel efficiency and therefore reduce carbon emissions. This includes strict control on the aircraft weight, regular engine wash, and airframe wash and polish programmes.”
Report by Jenny Southan