Boeing launches new weather and en-route services to reduce airline flight times and save fuel
Thu 28 Oct 2010 – From the beginning of 2011, Boeing is to make available two new subscription-based services that will provide airlines and their flight crews with up-to-the-minute information enabling en-route adjustments to account for weather and air traffic control status. Under its InFlight Optimization Services offering, Boeing is introducing two services, Direct Routes and Wind Updates, which it says can provide airlines with significant savings in time, fuel and carbon emissions. Direct Routes automatically alerts an airline’s operations centre and flight crew every time a simple, more fuel-efficient path opens up along the intended route of flight, whereas Wind Updates sends datalink messages to the flight deck with real-time, flight-customized wind information.
InFlight Optimization Services are designed to be implemented within current air traffic and airline operating procedures using existing communication channels. No regulatory changes and little to no new equipment are needed, claims Boeing.
Initial Boeing projections show that Direct Routes can save more than 40,000 minutes (666 hours) of flight time per year for a medium-size US airline, which the company says is the equivalent of operating hundreds of flights that use no fuel and produce no emissions.
The service utilizes NASA technology for advanced software algorithms, with Continental Airlines and Southwest Airlines participating in the development to ensure operational viability and assessment of the benefits. Details of the project and the findings were shared with the Federal Aviation Administration.
The datalink messages sent by the Wind Updates service enable the airplane’s flight management computer to recalculate flight control inputs based on more accurate and precise information. Currently, if flight crews obtain wind data prior to departure, that data can be as much as 12 to 20 hours old as a flight approaches its destination, which can prevent airplanes from operating at optimum speeds, altitudes and trajectories. Wind Updates delivers a fleet-wide solution using existing onboard equipment and requiring minimal investment, says Boeing.
Boeing projects potential fuel savings of 15 to 29 gallons (55-111 litres) or more for the descent portion of a typical single-aisle airplane flight and is conducting operational trials with KLM and Alaska Airlines.
“We are bringing to market easy-to-implement solutions to help our customers reach new levels of operational and environmental efficiency by reducing cost, fuel use and CO2 emissions,” said Sherry Carbary, Vice President of Flight Services, Commercial Aviation Services, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “As part of our commitment to offer lifecycle solutions to our customers, we are now providing real-time flight efficiency advisories.”