Los Angeles rolls out the red carpet for the Qantas A380 (photo: Qantas)
Thu 23 Oct 2008 – A second demonstration flight took place yesterday under the Asia and South Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (ASPIRE) programme which involved the return leg of Qantas’ inaugural Airbus A380 service between Australia and the US West Coast. By using optimum air traffic management procedures and the latest technologies, the new aircraft was able to fly from Los Angeles to Melbourne more quickly and efficiently, saving both fuel and emissions.
ASPIRE is a joint initiative formed by Airservices Australia, Airways New Zealand and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), together with Qantas, Air New Zealand and United Airlines.
The first demonstration occurred last month in which an Air New Zealand Boeing 777 flight from Auckland to Los Angeles managed to save an estimated 4,500 litres of fuel and 11 tonnes of CO2 over normal conditions using the procedures (see story).
This time, the flight was in the reverse direction across the Pacific, with fuel saving measures in operation starting on the ground at Los Angeles International Airport, where the A380 used electrical power instead of running its auxiliary power unit. It was then given priority clearance from ATC for taxiing and departure, and then a priority departure route out of Los Angeles and an unimpeded climb to cruise altitude. The flight crew used a preferred route for the most efficient path, taking into account winds and aircraft weight. Two real-time updates of current weather and wind allowed the crew to modify their flight path.
Although not confirmed by Qantas after the flight, it was planned for the aircraft to make a controlled descent approach to Melbourne Airport.
Fuel and emissions savings achieved by the ASPIRE flight will be made available shortly on the ASPIRE website.
Rob Kella, Qantas’ Chief Risk Officer, commented: “By working with key industry partners like Airservices Australia, we can fly the most fuel efficient flight paths which, if translated across our fleet, would deliver significant reductions in fuel burn and reduced impact on the environment.”
Greg Russell, CEO of Airservices Australia, said the demonstration flight showed that with the development of new technologies and advanced air traffic management techniques, aircraft fuel efficiency could be further improved.
Kella described the Qantas Group as having a well-established fuel conservation programme and “challenging” improvement targets that included a commitment to improve fuel efficiency by 25% by 2020.
“Since 2000, the Group has invested an average of $2 billion per annum in upgrading its international and domestic fleets,” he said. “With the introduction of the A380, and other new generation aircraft, we will be able to deliver significant improvements in emissions efficiency and noise. Partnerships such as ASPIRE will allow us to work towards a more sustainable and fuel efficient future.”
United Airlines is expected to make the third ASPIRE flight on November 14 between Sydney and San Francisco.
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