Air NZ adopts new technology

Air New Zealand estimates it will save millions in fuel bills and CO2 emissions with new technology fitted to its aircraft.

Performance-enhancing blended winglets will be fitted to its five Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, saving more than $7.5 million in fuel and 16,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

The 767 fleet operates to Australia, the Pacific Islands and Honolulu.

The winglets, developed by Aviation Partners Boeing, are 3.4m high wing-tip devices which make the aircraft's wing more efficient by reducing the drag near the wing tip. This means the aircraft uses less fuel, and can climb faster.

The Aviation Today website put the cost of fitting winglets to a 767-300ER at US$1.85m ($NZ2.84m).

Air New Zealand will also retrofit Swedish zonal dryers across four of its jet fleets to reduce fuel burn and emissions.

The electrically-powered dryers reduce moisture trapped in the aircraft's insulation. They typically remove around 200kg of water from each aircraft.

Air New Zealand expected the measure to save 1.9 million litres of fuel a year across 42 aircraft, reducing carbon emissions by 4700 tonnes a year.

General manager of airline operations David Morgan said that while the winglets were a significant investment, they would provide long-term environmental, performance and commercial benefits for aircraft operating services on longer sectors, he said.

The airline will also consider winglets for some of its other aircraft on long-haul services, such as the Boeing 777-200ERs, as they became available.

Mr Morgan said the zonal dryer technology delivered other benefits which strengthened the business case.

"Reducing fuel burn and emissions got our attention, but reducing moisture also improves the insulation's effectiveness; it results in a healthier cabin environment and reduces the potential for corrosion." He said each passenger exhaled around 100 grams of water an hour and the cold outside temperatures at altitude generated significant condensation, which is retained in the aircraft insulation.

Air New Zealand will install the dryers throughout its Boeing 777, 767, 737 and Airbus A320 fleets.

Other efficiency initiatives that have been adopted by the airline range from reducing weight on the aircraft to more accurate fuel loadings, optimising flight speeds, better use of ground power when aircraft are at the airport gate and improved descent profiles.

The airline is part of a ground-breaking initiative at San Francisco Airport to increase the efficiency of air traffic, which has saved in the first six months an estimated 48,000 litres of fuel and 120 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Over the four years from 2004 until March 2008, Air New Zealand's initiatives have saved 36.71 million litres of fuel and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 90,963 tonnes.

The airline is using 36 million litres less fuel on an annual basis delivering a saving of approximately $43m each year.


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