Airlines Respond To Fuel Prices With Hypermiling

Posted by: Kenny Chan onJune 23rd, 2008

Skyrocketing fuel costs have hit the airline industry hard this year prompting Air Canada to implement a fuel surcharge with WestJet following soon after. Air Canada is going one step further by implementing a $25 charge for that second piece of checked luggage.

Now, airlines are going one step further and adopting a practice used in the automobile industry, called hypermiling. The basic premise of hypermiling is to save fuel by cutting back on excessive acceleration and cruising as much as possible. The more extreme techniques of hypermiling however would not work for airlines (747s tailgating another 747 to save jetfuel?).

Westjet has started to relax on the throttle on many of its flights so if you thought that last flight took a bit longer than it should have, it probably did. Air Canada is also slowing down some of its flights to conserve fuel but its flights will only be one minute longer per hour of scheduled flight.

In addition to easing up on the throttle, the airlines are also looking at reducing weight and reducing the amount of time the engines idle between actual flying time. Horizon Air has started to only use one propeller when the plane is taxiing.

“Just like automobiles, if you drive a little slower, you’re going to save fuel,” said Capt. Claude Saint-Martin, manager of fuel efficiency and environmental matters for Air Canada. “That’s what we’re doing.”

Airline hypermiling has reduced the amount of fuel used by over 8 million kilograms. I’m not sure how much a kilogram of jet fuel costs, but I’m willing to bet it is a significant saving. Fuel costs are the point where it is beginning to impact the masses. New car buyers are shopping for more fuel efficient cars and now even the airlines consider more fuel.

“When you get down to the United States where the average fleet age might be anywhere from 15 to 17 years, the average age of our fleet at WestJet is three years,” said Bartrem. “The technological advances that have been made in engine technology that allow you to fly more fuel-efficiently are significant.”

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  1. EK 2.0 says:

    I don’t know a 747 drafting another one might be kinda cool to see…like Top Gun…but you know, for airliners…

  2. benyl says:

    Speaking to a pilot friend of mine, he said the majority of the fuel used during short haul flights is in the take off.

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