Monday, March 19, 2007

Northwest Airlines plans more efficient fuel use

Two weeks ago, I did something on my flight to Las Vegas that I rarely do: I read Northwest Airlines' (NWA) in-flight magazine, the WorldTraveler. Even rarer, the welcome letter from Northwest's Executive Vice President of Operations, Andy Roberts, caught my eye: NWA has some big plans to cut its fuel use. Jet fuel is the airline's single largest expense - more than $3 billion is spent each year according to Roberts.

So NWA put together a task force that includes 60 "front-line" employees and managers, representing 11 departments. They gathered more than 300 ideas from across the company on ways to become more fuel efficient, evaluated each idea in terms of cost, safety, etc., and recommended procedures
that could save up to 31 million gallons of fuel each year to an executive committee. Some examples:
  • Remove unused folding tables from the galleys of the 757-200 aircraft.
  • Add winglets to the 757-200 to increase fuel efficiency and the distance the aircraft can cover in a single trip.
  • Accelerate the retirement of the DC-10 (a plane NWA has been flying since 1972) and replace them with new Airbus A330, a 30 percent more efficient aircraft.
  • Develop lighter interior materials and equipment. For example, new serving carts are 22 pounds lighter, which can add up to a savings of 1,560 pounds on larger aircraft.
  • Change the way DC-9s are pushed away from the gate, saving about 180,000 gallons of fuel per year.
NWA claims to be on track to save 6.4 million gallons of fuel this year - the entire airline industry uses more than 19 billion gallons annually. Other airlines plagued by high fuel costs are working on efficiency measures as well. We'll see if global warming responses - like the UK's doubling of its airfare tax to attempt to curb air travel and cut emissions - also play a part in plans to increase fuel efficiency.

Photo credit: Northwest Airlines

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

April 20, 2008

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software that represent significant enhancements to safety and fuel
efficiency. As a Captain at a major airline for 23 years I understand the critical nature of these factors to your operations.

If your Airline engages in ETOPS operations and you are uploading
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Aircraft Fuel Savings Daily Savings Annual Savings

B-767 9565 lbs $4811 $1,756,015 B-777 4082 lbs $2053 $749,345
B-757 3552 lbs $1786 $651,890
B-737 3395 lbs $1707 $623,055

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James R Stabile
Vice President
Aeronautical Data Systems Inc