Air NZ trials fuel-saving flight

Air New Zealand is tonight running a flight to San Francisco which it says can result in an estimated 4400 litres of fuel savings and 11 tonnes fewer of carbon dioxide emissions.

The 7.30pm flight from Auckland will attempt to make the savings on Air NZ's regular flight to San Francisco through measures including a more efficient flight path, co-operation with airspace regulators and co-operation with airports which will mean less waiting and fuel usage at both ends of the flight.

Chief executive Rob Fyfe said Air New Zealand was committed to cutting its carbon emissions and its costs, and today's flight was a step in that process.

"By operating under these optimum planning conditions we will be able to demonstrate how many millions of tonnes of fuel and carbon emissions can be saved by airlines globally if they are permitted to utilise concepts and technologies in flight efficiency in all phases of commercial flight," he said.

The estimated savings would depend on factors such as weather, though new technology made it easier to read conditions in advance.

Mr Fyfe said the lower number of aircraft flying over the South Pacific compared to other parts of the world made it easier to achieve the savings this flight would make.

He said fuel savings would also be made by the plane making its initial climb at full thrust.

Planes had used less than full thrust to get to its flight altitude as full thrust put pressure on the plane, meaning it required more maintenance.

But the increase in fuel costs now made it more economic to spend more on maintenance and save on the fuel efficiency gained through the full thrust climb, Mr Fyfe said.

Air NZ was also hoping to have a biofuel trial rolled out by the end of the year.

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