British Airways, BAA and NATS produce the 'perfect' environmental flight from London to Edinburgh
Preparing for the 'perfect flight' (photo: BA)
Wed 14 July 2010 – British Airways, the UK’s air navigation service provider NATS and BAA at London Heathrow and Edinburgh airports have joined together to operate what they describe as the UK’s first ‘perfect flight’ last Saturday evening between the two cities. Every factor within the journey – from pushback from the stand, taxiing to an optimized flight profile and a continuous descent approach – was calibrated to achieve minimal emissions and delay. The Airbus A321 was also able to fly at its most fuel-efficient altitude for longer than usual.
Flight data is now being analyzed together with air traffic control and airport information to understand the benefits but early expectation is that the 330-odd mile flight saved around a quarter of a tonne of fuel over normal conditions, equating to a reduction of close to one tonne of CO2 emissions.
Kel Kirkland of NATS, which proposed the flight, said: “Unlocking each individual link in the chain on a single flight is not easy. Everyone has had a part to play. It will be some time before we can expect to see the ‘perfect flight’ replicated day in, day out but we have demonstrated it is possible and we can work towards it in the long term.”
BA Strategy and Environment Manager Dean Plumb said: “This highlights what can be achieved if every individual part of a flight is optimized. The data obtained should show that what seemed to be a normal scheduled flight actually achieved something extraordinary.”
Colin Wood, BAA Heathrow’s Airside Operations Director, said: “The benefits should include reduced taxi time, lower carbon emissions, improved air and noise quality, and lower airline fuel costs. We are always looking for ways to improve the environmental efficiency of ground operations at our airports and trials such as this are fundamental in delivering new procedures and technologies.”
Information from the flight will be shared with fellow members of Sustainable Aviation, a coalition of UK aviation industry organizations, to support its aims of reducing aircraft emissions to 2000 levels by 2050.