With the price of jet fuel increasing by around 90% over the last year, it is understandable that airlines are looking into every possible solution to reduce their fuel consumption and improve flight performance. A flight from New York JFK to London Heathrow costs in excess of £30,000 in fuel, and fuel costs account for between 20-40% of airline expenditure, so it is an area that requires precision management.
The weight and balance of an aircraft also contributes to the amount of fuel required, not to mention the overall safety of the flight.
What affects fuel consumption?
Every aircraft is different but the key factors that contribute towards fuel consumption include:
• Size of the aircraft
• Efficiency of the aircraft
• Taxi time
• Sector length
• Cargo weight
• Jet stream direction
• Weight of fittings
• Fuel weight
Getting the weight and balance correct is an essential element of flight planning that ensures a safe, comfortable experience for passengers and crew. Deficiencies in loading can cause take-off issues, endangering lives, and potentially damaging the multi-million-pound aircraft.
Pilots must be educated on 14 technical subjects when they study for their license, and one of these is ‘Mass and Balance’. Before they prepare for take-off, pilots are required to check that the total weight of the aircraft is within the correct range and that passengers, baggage and cargo are distributed to ensure balance.
There are three main components that must be used in the calculation of take-off performance: the empty weight of the aircraft (which stays the same each flight); the payload for that specific flight (passengers, baggage and cargo); and fuel, which will also change for each flight.
Passenger weight is calculated using, a standard mass for adults and children. The amount of fuel can vary depending on a variety of factors, but must adhere to safety regulations, which cater for a certain amount of spare fuel. This ensures that if there are any unexpected issues, such as diverting to a new route, there is an adequate amount of fuel to complete the journey. It is common for airlines to load enough fuel for 1.5 trips and then top this up prior to the return flight, if this can be done without delays.
The distribution of cargo and passenger weight is key to ensuring the aircraft does not tip back onto its tail. The load sheet which is produced for the pilot, will calculate the centre of gravity and gross weight of the aircraft at take-off. To rectify uneven distribution of weight, passengers may be asked to relocate to different sections of the aircraft; or cargo and baggage may need to be loaded into rear compartments.
Promeus can help you and your airline make vital decisions, backed-up by intricate data. The Promeus system is a cloud-based Saas that dynamically analyses and calculates the factors listed above, amongst many others, to support and drive your decisions.
Stop wasting money on inefficient flights and set your airline up for success with Promeus.