German aviation is reducing its specific carbon dioxide emissions from year to year. In 2012, the airlines achieved an all-time record by reducing fuel consumption to 3.8 litres of kerosene per 100 passenger-kilometres. The German Aviation Association (BDL) presents the latest key indicators, strategies and measures in this Energy Efficiency and Climate Protection Report 2013.
Energy efficiency report in key indicators
Air transport is becoming more and more efficient. Today, rising traffic volumes no longer mean a parallel increase in kerosene consumption. Aviation has cut this link many years ago.
While air traffic in Germany has more than tripled since 1990, kerosene consumption has risen only by 77 per cent during the same period. This figure relates to the total kerosene used for aircraft refuelling at German airports. The air transport services for which the kerosene is used for comprise all flights within and departing from Germany. Absolute kerosene consumption decreases for years – thanks to many steps taken to increase energy efficiency, but also due to removing some domestic German routes.
New efficiency record of 3.8 litres
Since 1990, German airlines have succeeded in reducing their fuel consumption per passenger per 100 km by 40 per cent. In 1990, an aircraft on average consumed 6.3 litres of fuel per passenger per 100 km. In 2012, German airlines set a new efficiency record, reducing fuel consumption to an average of 3.8 litres of kerosene. This statistic takes into account all passenger flights operated by BDL airlines, including their subsidiaries.
In 2012, German airlines were able to reduce kerosene consumption by 352 million litres. That is enough to transport 6.2 million passengers from Berlin to Mallorca.
Which factors affect average consumption?
Fuel consumption per flight varies, especially depending on the passenger load factor and the distance flown. Average kerosene consumption on short-haul flights (< 800 km) is five to seven litres per 100 passenger-kilometres. On medium-haul flights (800 to 3,000 km) it is 2.6 to 4.3 litres, and on longhaul
flights (> 3,000 km) it is 2.6 to 3.6 litres per 100 passenger-kilometres. Furthermore, charter flights use less fuel than scheduled flights. This is because passengers plan and book well in advance for charter flights, which allows airlines to plan for a higher load factor with more seats being filled. In addition, charter flights are fitted with more rows of seats into the same of aircraft as they do not offer Business or First Class.
CO2 emissions on domestic routes in Germany
Since 1990, CO2 emissions on domestic German flights have been reduced by 20 per cent to 1.84 million tonnes – even though domestic German air traffic grew by 63 per cent during the same period.
Share of global aviation in worldwide CO2 emissions has been falling for ten years
On the global scale, the aviation industry has also increased its energy efficiency, preventing the emission of 4.5 billion tonnes of CO2 since 1990 – the equivalent of the annual carbon dioxide output in Europe. Despite the on-going substantial growth in air travel, the share of global CO2 emissions caused by aviation has been falling for years. It dropped to 2.45 per cent in 2010.
Proactive reduction of kerosene consumption
The aviation sector has been reducing its fuel consumption without government imposed limits or other regulatory measures. Airlines strive to minimise their fleets’ kerosene consumption of their own accord as, due to rising oil prices, fuel costs have been one of their biggest cost factors for several decades.
The cost of kerosene represents a third of an airline’s total operating costs. In 2013, airlines worldwide are expected to spend some 164 billion euros on fuel – five times as much as ten years ago.
Airline operating costs (31.9 KB)
Further research on climate impact required
Scientific research has well established how carbon dioxide affects our climate. However, a broad research is still required into other possible climatic effects of
aviation, for example, resulting from the formation of cirrus clouds. Scientists are also questioning the scientific significance of the Radiation Forcing Index (RFI) when applied to calculate a flight’s climatic impact.
Overview of aviation emissions (103.6 KB)
The climate impact of air travel depends on the emissions and atmospheric reactions described above, as well as on their geographical spread and residence times.
Reliable projections of future climate developments are crucial for protecting the environment effectively. In order to improve the climate models required for this, theory and reality must be compared constantly. Lufthansa has been supporting projects of this kind for years. As part of the EU project “IAGOS”, the airline is currently involved in setting up a system for observing the Earth’s atmosphere.
Industry targets and four-pillar strategy
Airlines, aircraft manufacturers and airports worldwide agreed on specific climate protection targets as early as 2009.
German airlines even surpass the global targets
The global aviation sector has set itself the following targets:
- Up to 2020, to increase energy efficiency by 1.5 per cent per year – Germany’s passenger airlines have achieved an average increase in energy efficiency of 2.3 per cent per year since 1990.
- From 2020 onwards, to achieve carbon-neutral growth, among other means, by using marketbased mechanisms – For routes within Europe, airlines have been subject to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) since 2012. As a result, the target of carbon-neutral growth has already been met in Germany.
- By 2050, to reduce aviation’s net CO2 emissions by 50 per cent compared to 2005 levels, even though traffic volumes are set to grow continuously.
Measures to achieve CO2 reduction targets (122.2 KB)
The four-pillar strategy points the way forward
The aviation sector’s global climate protection measures are based upon a four-pillar strategy agreed by the international aviation industry in 2007:
- Firstly, aircraft and engine manufacturers, in particular, are driving forward technical innovations in aircraft and engine design. In addition, the use of sustainable alternative fuels is being increased.
- Secondly, airlines and airports are increasing the efficiency of their operations – ranging from flight planning and flight procedures through to energy supply.
- Thirdly, governments are being called upon to ensure an efficient and sustainable infrastructure, both on the ground and in the air. This includes extending airports in line with demand as well as establishing an efficient single European airspace – the Single European Sky.
- Fourthly, market-based measures can facilitate carbon-neutral growth. These measures must be applied to the aviation sector on a global scale to avoid distorting competition. They also must allow an easy implementation.
Research for even greater ecological efficiency
Research and development are vital to achieve these ambitious targets, and international alliances are of key importance in this effort. For example, under the Clean Sky II Technology Initiative, Europe’s aviation industry and the European Union will invest a total of 3.6 billion euros in the development of ecoefficient technologies between 2014 and 2020. One of the partners is the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), which currently leads the so-called “Technology Evaluator”. This project stimulates the interaction of different flight components such as engines, fuselage and wings. Its research is aimed at fostering the development of aircraft with lower emissions.
Manufacturers: focus on engines, aerodynamics and weight
Each new generation of aircraft reduces fuel consumption by around 20 per cent. Engines, aerodynamics and weight hold considerable potential for savings. Currently, the German airlines alone have 275 more-fuel-efficient aircraft on order, amounting to a list price of 27 billion euros in total.
Innovative engine technology increases efficiency by 15 per cent
For decades, the fan and the low-pressure turbine of aircraft engines have been mounted on a joint axle. However, engine efficiency can be significantly increased if these two elements operate in their respective optimal speed range. By fitting a gearbox behind the fan, MTU and Pratt & Whitney have come up with a more efficient design principle that reduces CO2 emissions by 15 per cent.
In 2012, successful test flights were conducted with the new engine. It is now used at the Airbus A320neo, among others.
Sharklets increase efficiency by 3.5 per cent
Improvements in aerodynamics also hold great potential. Take sharklets for example: At a height of 2.4 metres, the latest generation of these curved wingtips reduce fuel consumption by around 3.5 per cent. They are used within the Airbus A320 family and its successor generation, the A320neo. German airlines have ordered 70 aircraft with this wingtip modification. Some older aircraft can also be retrofitted with these sharklets.
Wingtips reduce drag (135.1 KB)
Lightweight containers increase fuel efficiency,
saving thousands of tonnes of kerosene per year
The heavier an aircraft, the more energy it requires to fly. Therefore, aircraft manufacturers and suppliers are turning to the latest materials to reduce weight. Lufthansa Cargo is in the process of replacing more than 5,000 aluminium containers with lightweight alternatives. Each one weighs 13 kg less, reducing CO2 emissions by a total of 6,800 tonnes per year. That is equivalent to the CO2 output of 50 flights from Frankfurt to Dakar, using a Boeing MD-11.
Going forward: CO2 standards for greater transparency
Up to now, there have been no proper standards to compare the efficiency levels of individual aircraft adequately. The UN’s civil aviation organization ICAO is now addressing this issue. At the beginning of February 2013, it agreed upon a technical concept for a global CO2 standard for aircraft. In future, customers will be able to compare aircraft consumption figures optimally before deciding which aircraft to purchase.
Airlines: higher passenger load factor, more direct routes
Airlines and air traffic control organisations are working to make individual flights as energy-efficient as possible. Passenger load factor and route management are key elements in this effort.
Passenger load factor reaches a new record
Airlines optimise the passenger load factor of their aircraft by applying complex price and capacity management models. This is not only crucial for the airlines’ economic efficiency; it also reduces the average fuel consumption per passenger. The passenger load factor of aircraft fleets around the world reached an all-time high of 79.2 per cent in 2012. In Germany, the aviation industry even managed to exceed this average, with a load factor of 80.2 per cent. For comparison: Highspeed (ICE) trains in Germany travel at an average load factor of 47 per cent; passenger cars reach around 30 per cent, with an average of 1.5 occupants on board.
In 2012, flights between two airports in Germany detoured from the shortest possible flight route by only 3.6 per cent on average. This, virtually optimal routing is made possible, above all, by what is known as the civil-military integration, implemented by the German air traffic control, DFS Deutsche Flugsicherung. Under this system, the exclusive use of German airspace for military exercises is kept to a minimum in order to facilitate optimal flight routes for civil aviation. Modern satellite applications enable further
- Lufthansa Cargo has equipped its entire freighter fleet with the satellite communications system SATCOM in recent months. As a result, aircraft can be reached even in remote areas, facilitating direct routing. In the Far East, for example, the flight time between Guangzhou or Hong Kong in China and Almaty in Kazakhstan can be shortened by around 30 minutes this way. On this route alone, the improvement in routing cuts CO2 emissions by around 6,300 tonnes per year, based on ten flights per week.
- European air traffic control organisations, airlines and airports are currently testing a fourdimensional route management system. This system allows to calculate exactly how much time is required for different flight procedures, such as taxiing or gliding, and it also accounts for the effect of weather. Based on these details, the software computes the optimal departure time for the aircraft. This again helps to avoiding unnecessary holding times in the airspace at the destination airport. Flights can be organized more effectively, which again results in lower kerosene consumption.
Airports: optimised operations, modern lighting
At the airports, ground operations also offer scope to reduce CO2 emissions. Germany’s airports are at the forefront of worldwide innovation in this field.
Rigorous implementation of the low-emission strategy
The so-called Airport Carbon Accreditation is a verification and certification standard for managing greenhouse gas emissions at airports. It was initiated by ACI, the European airports’ association. Following this standard, airports have been measuring their carbon footprint for years, and they regularly identify potential for further lowering emissions. The objectives and measures to reduce CO2 emissions are verified by external auditors on a regular basis.
Improved coordination of handling processes
Aircraft handling is a complex process involving airlines, airports, ground handling services and air traffic control. The Airport Collaborative Decision Making (Airport CDM) programme enables the data required for aircraft handling operations to be shared. The benefit: Individual operations at an airport can be better coordinated, and this helps to avoid energyintensive waiting times on the runway. As much as 3.75 million litres of kerosene can be saved at an airport on the size of Munich airport in this way. In May 2013, the Airport CDM programme was rolled out at six airports across Europe, three of them in Germany.
Saving with LEDs* (31.1 KB)
New, efficient lighting
Lighting is one of the major factors in managing energy efficiency. Several airports have been changing their conventional lighting systems to low-energy lightemitting diodes (LEDs). A practical test conducted in Frankfurt indicates that the energy required for lighting is reduced by 80 per cent. By switching to LED lamps, Frankfurt and Munich airports expect to reduce CO2 emissions by several thousand tonnes a year.
Air traffic control: energy-efficient flight routing
Direct flight paths not only reduce kerosene costs; they also help avoiding CO2 emissions.
Progress to date
Germany’s air traffic control DFS introduced the civilmilitary integration as early as 1993, and this has facilitated virtually direct flight routes within German airspace since then. Under this arrangement, otherwise military airspace is accessible to civil aviation whenever it is not used for military exercises. This means flights can be organised much more efficiently and routed without detours.
Functional airspace blocks (155.3 KB)
Cooperation instead of fragmentation
By contrast, European air navigation service providers have been organized along national lines for decades. This has partially made it difficult to optimise cross border routing: in some cases, longer flight paths were needed because airspace was closed for military reasons. Additional emissions and extra costs were the result.
To solve this problem a single European airspace is now being set up, in which Europe’s 27 air navigation service providers are grouped into nine Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs). This close collaboration is intended to facilitate optimal flight routes for airlines and to reduce the European aviation sector’s output of CO2 by up to 12 per cent. In total, 115 cross-border direct night flights have already been established under this scheme, saving around 3.3 million km and 10,800 tonnes of kerosene per year.
However, achieving a more efficient European air traffic control area requires not just the commitment of the air navigation service providers, but also a new and stronger commitment to cooperation on the part of the EU member states and the military institutions.
Innovative concepts: alternative aviation fuels and engines
Biofuels are proving their potential in the aviation sector. Lufthansa has become the first airline in the world to use an alternative to fossil fuel kerosene in their regular operations.
On course to commercial viability
Between July and December 2011, a 50 per cent blend of sustainable biofuel was used to power an Airbus-321 engine on the Hamburg-Frankfurt route. As a result, the output of CO2 could be reduced by around 1,500 tonnes, based on eight flights a day throughout over the trial period. Under the Aviation Initiative for Renewable Energy in Germany (aireg), more than 30 companies and organisations, both from the biofuel and aviation industries and from the scientific community, are working hard to realise the commercial potential of biofuels. Their target: By 2025, a total of 10 per cent of the fuel required at German airports is to be provided from alternative sources.
Biofuel yields (25.4 KB)
Raw materials: sustainability is key
The production and use of alternative fuels is subject to strict sustainability criteria. A primary concern is the so-called competition between food and fuel: Aireg has declared its commitment that the supply of raw materials for biofuel must not squeeze food and animal feed production. For this reason, the aireg partners are focusing their research on raw materials which can be grown on as little land as possible, such as algae. In addition, aireg has teamed up with German development policymakers to investigate in how far growing Jatropha for biofuel production can strengthen local economic structures in developing countries. Jatropha was chosen for cultivation for two reasons especially: It is unfit for human and animal consumption, and it thrives on land unsuitable for food production.
Ensuring commercial viability
At present, alternative fuels cannot yet be produced competitively. While the price of conventional Jet A-1 fuel is 958 US dollars per tonne, HEFA biofuel costs more than 1,300 US dollars. The high price is mostly due to the cost of raw materials and production. For alternative fuels to become competitive, mass production is needed as well as stable long-term production conditions
along the entire value chain. Promotional government policies have to ensure that the production conditions for alternative fuels are free from competitive disadvantages.
Difference in cost (34.3 KB)
Aircraft configuration of the future
Provided they are available in sufficient quantities and at an economic price, biofuels offer a feasible way of powering aircraft even today. When it comes to eco-efficiency, however, completely new aircraft configurations lead the way to the future. The German Aerospace Centre (DLR), for example, is researching energy-efficient aircraft with a view to 2040. The development of what is referred to as “blended wing bodies” shows promise. Optimal aerodynamics allow for low energy consumption and low CO2 emissions. And the future development of aircraft surfaces holds further potential for ecoefficiency: It could even lead the way to solar and fuel cell-based energy supplies in aviation.