We’ve been able to measure the environmental efficiency of the aircraft in our skies for some time, but until now we haven’t been able to extend that knowledge to planes operating on the ground at airports.
Over the past 12 months we’ve been working on a new Taxi Time Monitoring Tool aimed at giving our airport teams and customers a better indication of the amount of fuel being used between the stand and runway.
The tool uses Electronic Flight Progress Strips (EFPS) data – the information controllers use to keep track of the aircraft under their guidance – to measure the time that elapses between a flight being cleared to taxi and take-off.
We want to use the data initially to get a better handle on the trends and areas for potential improvement, with plans to share the data with airport operators and airlines in the near future.
Small savings here and there in ground taxiing can soon mount up when you look at a whole airport’s operation and the potential overall savings across all NATS airport units. Using Heathrow as an example, we think that if we can cut the average departure taxi time by just a minute per flight, we can save the airlines 4,500 tonnes of fuel, worth almost £30 million a year.
And with so much of an airline’s budget going on fuel, these are savings worth having.
We’re rolling this out initially to all the EFPS equipped airports, including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Gatwick, Glasgow, Heathrow, London City, Luton, Manchester and Stansted, however we’re also looking at how to deliver a new taxi time sampling tool at non-EFPS airports too.
Beyond that, the next step is to see how it can be adapted to work with data from other types of aircraft, such as helicopters in particular to help the operation at Aberdeen.
We also hope to be able to look at the finer detail of taxiing operations like taxiway stop/starts and aircraft speeds to determine where the opportunities for fuel savings are in those areas.
I’ll keep you updated on how we get on.
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Electric taxiing system which is in already in development will help with fuel savings for all airlines.