Tue 19 Apr 2011 – The steep rise in oil prices has led airline industry group IATA to raise its previous forecast on fuel costs by $10 billion, leaving airlines with a collective bill of $166 billion to find in 2011. Fuel is now estimated to represent 29 per cent of total operating costs for the industry on average – up from 26 per cent in 2010. With this in mind, along with the implications of the impending EU ETS, fuel saving initiatives are more important than ever and three companies in particular are developing software systems that promise fuel and carbon reductions for aircraft operators. ETS Aviation has brought in former easyJet Fuel Conservation Manager Ian Britchford to spearhead the launch of its new Fuelsaver tool. Start-up company Fuel Matrix is the brainchild of Captain Tim Waite, who has used his airline experience to develop a three-level approach to reducing fuel usage. Meanwhile, FuelPlus Software has developed a module that is aimed at assisting airlines to plan, monitor and track fuel efficiency initiatives.
To be launched later this year, the ETS Aviation Fuelsaver system is intended to predict and analyse potential savings for airlines, and will record the actual cost reductions achieved.
“Our software is being designed in association with a number of development partners,” says Britchford. “We intend it to be accessible to all levels of airline personnel, from the ground handlers to the CEO, ensuring a company-wide approach and commitment to fuel saving at every level.
“Our aim is to bring the large airlines’ experience to operators throughout the world via a modestly-priced monthly subscription. Many aircraft operators cannot afford to employ a dedicated fuel saving manager, nor purchase expensive software systems or develop effective in-house solutions. With Fuelsaver, we can combine our expertise with software as if we were an operator’s own fuel savings manager or department.”
The company is best known for its ETS Aviation Footprinter system, which was designed to help aircraft operators meet the requirements of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. It allows the operator to upload data as it is collected, review it internally, have the data verified and then generate a tonne-kilometre (TKM) report or annual emissions report directly from the software. The data can be easily exported into the UK and German reporting portals.
“Our clients were inputting their data 14 months before the March 31 deadline, which meant they were in a very good position to meet their obligations and maximise their TKM allocations with minimum error,” says ETS Aviation’s Head of IT and Software Development, Simon Price.
The company claims there are now more than 70 users of the Footprinter system, both directly and via service providers, including carriers Malev, Air Seychelles, White Airways and US cargo operator Evergreen. The latter’s EU ETS emissions are being verified by VerifAvia, which can carry out the process through remote access. Other verifiers partnering with ETS Aviation on using the Footprinter tool include SGS and BSI.
According to Fuel Matrix, a common problem amongst aircraft operators is that too much excess fuel is carried on board as pilots are not sufficiently confident about flight safety when lesser loads are suggested by operators. The fledgling company has developed a web-based software application that aims to enhance the pilot’s ability to make more accurate assumptions and calculations. Alpha testing on Boeing 777s suggest potential fuel savings of between 0.615% and 1.671% per sector.
A second level to the system aims to improve calculations to metrics such as cost index, tankering, re-allocation, actual zero fuel weight and centre of gravity, which Fuel Matrix claims will double the savings achieved by Level 1. A third level goes further still by revolutionising the understanding of cruise degradation, says Captain Waite.
“Under an EU-funded contract, it is already proven to save a further 2% of fuel and emissions,” he says. “We have opened discussions on integrating this software; if this is completed we anticipate that Fuel Matrix will then save 4-6%. The financial and environmental benefits are very significant indeed.”
The company is seeking investment from industrial partners and collaboration in its development (interested parties should contact CEO Roy Fuscone).
German IT company FuelPlus Software has been providing fuel management systems to aircraft operators of all sizes worldwide for a number of years. Its products assist clients in optimising and automating their commercial fuel processes, monitor and report emissions for compliance with the EU ETS and calculate fuel savings.
FuelPlus has just developed a Business Intelligence System (BIS), which is aimed at assisting airlines to plan, monitor and track their various fuel efficiency initiatives. It uses a reporting solution to bring together data that is already captured by the main FuelPlus system along with data supplied by the aircraft itself, and displayed in a user-friendly reporting ‘dashboard’.
The first phase of the project is due to be completed by the end of this month, with further enhancements expected by the end of July 2011.
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