According to a regulatory change proposed by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), airliners are now allowed to carry a reduced amount of fuel required for diversions and delays, onboard.
Standard operating procedures require that airlines carry sufficient fuel on board to compensate for unforeseen circumstances such as possible diversions and delays caused due to holding pattern(s) and/or delays on approach to the destination airport or even the impossibility to land due to weather considerations or another issue.
Carrying extra fuel adds to the overall weight of an aircraft, which in turn translates to increased fuel consumption and total emissions from the flight. Any reduction in the carriage of this extra fuel would slash considerable CO2 emissions of the overall flight, thereby reducing the carbon footprint on the environment.
Touted to slash CO2 emissions by up to 3 million tons annually, which, approximately represents 1% of total European flight emissions.
According to EASA, the data on the amount of additional fuel required can be optimised, while continuing to ensure high safety levels. This can be achieved by improved risk assessments and calculations based on better data and better decision making.
The regulatory package, which consists of Regulation (EU) 2021/1296 and ED Decision 2022/005/R providing the AMC and GM, is aligned with guidance from ICAO. Additionally, these regulations will also be applicable for aircraft powered fully or partially by alternative energy sources, such as electric aircraft.
This regulatory package is part of the overall efforts of EASA to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment. There is no reason to lift up more fuel reserve into the sky than necessary – lifting fuel burns more fuel. Most importantly, this can be done without compromising safety – the reduction is possible thanks to better assessment methods and better data which allow airlines to carry out a more precise risk assessment.Jesper Rasmussen, EASA Flight Standards Director
The new rules bring in three different fuel schemes: basic fuel scheme, fuel scheme with variations and individual fuel scheme. The transition from the current rules to the basic fuel scheme requires little additional effort from the perspective of an air operator-said EASA. It further mentioned that the other two schemes are voluntary and will take more resources to implement as those require enhanced monitoring capabilities from the airlines. Furthermore, national authorities will also have to adjust their oversight to ensure that safety levels are not compromised.
Apparently, the savings are touted to benefit long-haul flights to a greater extent. These are the flights that produce most of the CO2 emissions. According to Eurocontrol data, long-haul flights represent 6.2% of the flights but create 51.9% of the CO2 emissions.
The aforementioned regulations are expected to go on the floor by October 30, 2022.