By Gustavo Grad
November 5, 2011
In a world first, Air France recently completed the lowest CO2 emissions flight anywhere. To achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the flight used a 50-percent mix of sustainable biofuel, optimized flight procedures, and airplane design to reduced on-board mass.
The flight was from Toulouse, France, to Paris, which takes about one hour and 20 minutes nonstop.
Air France directly addressed the main source of aircraft CO2 emissions by using a mix of conventional kerosene and bio-kerosene made from hydrogenated used vegetable oils. Emissions on this flight amounted to 54 grams (1.9 ounces) of CO2 per passenger-kilometer, half that emitted on a conventional flight, according to the airline. The company said that the bio-fuel used constitutes a renewable energy source which does not compete with the food chain nor does it deplete water resources.
The pilots, in conjunction with traffic controllers, also applied the most fuel-efficient procedures in each flight phase. For example, after touchdown, the plane taxied with one engine shut down—a daily procedure at Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris to save fuel.
Concerning design, reduced on-board mass consists in lightening the aircraft. Every kilogram of weight removed represents a savings of 80 metric tons (more than 176,000 pounds) of CO2 per year. This optimization process included new seats with 40 percent less weight. This helps to save 1,700 metric tons (more than 3.7 million pounds) of jet fuel a year. In addition, all cabin equipment was reduced by an average 15 percent, including serving equipment (containers, trolleys, and storage).
The airline’s vision is to reach a sustainable balance between aviation growth and the control of CO2 emissions, and Air France aims to mobilize the airline industry in reducing the environmental impact of air travel.
© 2011 SCGH, LLC.