Air Berlin’s focus on reducing its carbon footprint, and its fuel bills, is inspirational. Airberlin, despite having achieved a new record with its average fuel consumption of 3.4 liters per passenger kilometer flown, is continuing to extend its pioneering role through constant innovative developments. It has so far had three approaches to reducing fuel bills: through operational techniques, which involves pilots; through drag reduction techniques, which involves maintenance of the aircraft skin paint, and now through weight reduction programs. Weight, Drag, and Flying techniques: all three impact fuel burn.
In 2012, the Fuel Efficiency Training program was introduced in which 60 pilots served as “Fuel Coaches" to pass on their knowledge to around 280 pilots, on “Fuel Efficiency Flights". These flights placed emphasis on the use of the GPU instead of the APU, when parked at the gate; Continuous Descent Approaches, and Single Engine Taxi. These save not only fuel, but cut maintenance related bills due to reduced system wear.
Airberlin also became the first airline to develop new software for aerodynamic optimization, using a in-house developed measuring tool aimed at optimizing air flow over the aircraft exterior. This new software calculates the additional fuel consumption due to the increased air resistance and allows Airberlin to repair these specific flaws in the course of the next maintenance event.
In its latest drive, “Mission Clear Out", Air Berlin removed all non-fixed items from an Airbus A330: D-ALPC, to weigh and identify those that were essential, non-essential, and those that could be replaced with something lighter. For example, the Quick Reference handbook is essential, but a hard copy of the manual does not need to be carried since it is already available in digital form on the computer in the cockpit.
With this exercise, Air Berlin was able to save 17kg, which, over a year, translates to significant savings. The longest route flown by Air Berlin is to Los Angeles, from Berlin, which is around 5,000NM. An Airbus A330-200 burns, over this distance, approximately 200kg of fuel for every 1000kg of additional load. If even 17kg is knocked off an airplane, it translates to a saving of 3.5kg per aircraft, and at least 7 kg per aircraft per day. Over a year, this amounts to 2,555kg per aircraft per year, or 3,200 litres per aircraft per year. With their fleet of 14 A330-200 (as of 30th of June 2013), this can result in a saving of as much as 44,712 liters of ATF per year, and this is huge: enough to fuel an A330 for a 4,000NM trip!
“This project has demonstrated that Airberlin is already very well positioned in terms of eco-efficient flying, since only a few items were found that were non-essential. Nonetheless, the expense has paid dividends and reduced annual CO2 emissions per aircraft on long-haul routes by about eight tonnes, which is equivalent to 2.5 tonnes of fuel," said Christian Bodemann, Head of Cabin Maintenance at Airberlin technik and the project manager of Clear Out.
The mission has had a further positive outcome: during the detailed analysis carried out on the aircraft’s non-fixed furnishings, it was possible to identify several follow-on projects, which Airberlin will now continue to pursue as part of its efficiency drive.
Recently, Airberlin received the “Silver Eco-Airline of the Year" award, given as part of the Eco-Aviation awards, by the American aviation magazine Air Transport World, in recognition of its commitment in the area of eco-efficiency.
Airbus has announced that its Airbus A330 production rate has touched 10 aircraft a month, which is significant for a wide body airliner, and the highest production rate of any Airbus widebody aircraft.
Airbus claims that the Airbus A330 is “the most popular in its category". A330 Programme head Patrick Piedrafita said more than 800 sales have been logged since Airbus’ competitor launched its 787, validating the A330’s sustained competitiveness. That statement is vague.
The 767-300ER, and the 767-400ER, together have 621 orders, of which only 9 are unfulfilled. These two models compete with the A330-200 in capacity, but fall short in range by more than 1,500NM. There are totally 575 orders for the Airbus A330-200. Yes, the Airbus wins considering it is a younger airplane and offers more range and capacity. Then, the 787 was introduced to replace the 767 and compete against the popular A330-200.
But the Boeing 787-8 has orders for 535 airplanes, of which 50 have been delivered. If the 787’s issues are resolved, and it re-enters service and production, it quickly eclipses the popularity of the Airbus A330-200: It offers a lot more, for the same price as the shorter Airbus A330, while offering the same range and passenger capacity. Which explains the orders for the 787-8. The 787, was introduced in service in 2011, while the A330 entered service in 1992. Considering this gap, the 787’s sales performance is way better, underlining its competitiveness. If A330 Programme head Patrick Piedrafita says the A330 is still competitive, he must realize that if the 787 program ran smooth, the A330-200 line would have closed. It isn’t the 787, but the 787 program that still makes the A330-200 a safe bet.
And yes, he must be reminded that the A330-300 is a different aircraft.
The Airbus A330-300 competes against the Boeing 777-200 and 777-200ER aircraft. It has the same passenger capacity (440 max pax), but has a range that falls in between the -200 and the -200ER variant. The 777-200 and the -200ER together have orders for 510 airplanes, while the A330-300 has a order book total of 622 airplanes. The A330 family does not compete with the other 777 models (-200LR, -300, -300ER). The Boeing 777-200LR, 777-300 and 777-300ER compete with the Airbus A340-500 and -600, which are now out of production.
Although the A330-300 boasts a range similar to the 777-300, it falls short in maximum passenger capacity by 110 passengers. The A330-300 costs lesser than the 777-200 and 200ER aircraft, and is cheaper to operate. Yes, the Airbus 330 is a lot more competitive than competing 777 models, and stands as the best aircraft in its category, but that doesn’t mean it is more competitive than the 787.
Infact, the A330-300 is a lot more popular than the A330-200. But Airbus can’t compare the A330-300 with the 787. Apples and Oranges don’t look, smell, and taste alike, even if they have 2 wings and two engines.