Tue 23 May 2017 – Fuel efficiency gains at Europe’s second-largest airline easyJet have resulted in carbon emissions per passenger kilometre falling below 80 grams for the first time and are on track to be reduced by a third in 20 years, it says. The low-cost carrier attributes the milestone to improving technology and a continued long-term focus on reducing weight and improving operating efficiency. Since it began reporting on carbon emissions in 2000, easyJet’s emissions have reduced from 116.2 grams to 79.98 grams – a reduction of 31%. It is now targeting a further reduction to around 77 grams by 2020 as new Airbus A320neo aircraft join the fleet.
“At easyJet we want to make sure that we take our passengers where they want to go with the lowest carbon emissions. Through our efficiency programme we continually look for ways to reduce fuel usage and emissions,” said Captain Chris Foster, who leads the airline’s carbon efficiency programme.
“By using modern aircraft and flying them efficiently, we will have successfully reduced the carbon impact of our flights by a third in 20 years, delivering a step change in the environmental impact of our flights.”
The easyJet fleet is made up of 266 Airbus A320 family aircraft, with new deliveries since 2013 featuring Sharklet wing tips that deliver a 4% fuel and CO2 saving. Next month, the carrier will take delivery of its first of 130 new generation CFM LEAP-1A-powered A320neo aircraft, which are expected to be 15% more fuel efficient as well as reducing noise by half.
The airline says its engineering and flight operations teams are constantly looking for every small efficiency gain and to ensure the aircraft are as lightweight as possible. Pilots are using only one of the two engines while taxiing, which averages 20 minutes for each flight, the equivalent of around four million miles a year. Airport electrical power is used as much as possible on the ground, rather than the aircraft’s jet fuel-burning auxiliary power unit. Under the airline’s enhanced maintenance programme, aircraft engine compressors are washed regularly to ensure they operate as efficiently as possible.
Weight reductions onboard the aircraft have also been made and the Recaro seats in use offer increased passenger space, says easyJet, while being 26% lighter than previous seats. In October 2015, easyJet ordered 30,000 SL3510 lightweight seats from Recaro, both to retrofit its current fleet and equip new aircraft. At just 9kg per seat, every retrofitted aircraft will be 600kg lighter than before. Replacing 27kg of paper navigational charts on each aircraft with Panasonic Toughpads has delivered a reduction of over 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year since this was completed in 2014.
EasyJet is also looking to future technology to make further reductions in carbon emissions and, it says, “fundamentally change the way we fly.” The airline is developing a hybrid plane concept that would use a hydrogen fuel cell stowed in the aircraft’s hold. The zero-emissions system would capture energy as the aircraft brakes on landing to charge the system’s lightweight batteries when on the ground that can then be used by the aircraft, for example, when taxiing (see article).
It also recently announced it would be providing an airline operator’s perspective to US start-up Wright Electric, which is developing a commercial passenger plane to run on electrical battery power (see article).
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