New Perspective: Cut Fuel Costs By Thinking Bigger, Not Smaller

If you’re like most global corporate flight departments, you’re likely thinking “small” when it comes to fuel savings. How can we cut a bit more here? Squeeze out a bit more performance there? What if the answer to fuel savings isn’t thinking smaller, but BIGGER? There’s a new approach to fuel savings that is proving itself in commercial aviation today, and will be making its mark in business aviation very soon. 

“We’re doing everything we can.”

This phrase is used, often more than once, every time operational expenses are reviewed with a CFO or an airplane owner. And it’s true. Whether a flight department operates one airplane or one hundred, everyone is involved in analyzing how his or her role or department (planning, operations, maintenance, dispatch/scheduling, air traffic, ground handling, etc.) can do more to ensure less fuel is used.

And it doesn’t stop there. Flight planning decisions and equipment choices are being driven by the need to save fuel:

  • Altitudes—Remember when the best altitude was the one that would get you there faster and offered the smoothest ride?
  • Fuel Stops—No longer are they optimized for passenger comfort or operational efficiency. Today, fuel prices, and taxes that are often higher than price of fuel, dictate where many refuel or call their final destination.
  • Equipment Choice—The right airplane for the mission is no longer the one that carries the most people, safely, comfortably and efficiently. Instead, flight planning feels more like organizing a college student road trip—Which car gets the best mileage and how many people can we squeeze in it?
  • Modifications—While there are credible and qualified fuel-savings modifications out there, they can be expensive and come with their own set of risks. Will the modification deliver as promised? How long before costs savings are realized? How will the mod impact structural integrity, handling, and other systems? What impact could the mod have on the warranty? Is there an STC? Do I even need one?

You, armed with a spreadsheet, are doing everything you can. Soon, you’ll be able to add a new column to your spreadsheet labeled ‘Culture’ with a dollar value assigned to a list of behavioral changes in your operation that will save fuel.

Change Your Culture, Not Your Equipment

As perhaps the biggest consumers of fuel in the world (outside the military) commercial airlines, with the help of a UK-based company called ETS Aviation, have looked at, and perfected, a holistic view of fuel operation. And the savings are averaging anywhere from 2.5% to 7%, depending on the operation, with a 4.5% average fuel savings cost year over year. When you consider the razor thin margins of airlines, the unpredictable cost of fuel, and the fact that fuel is 40% of an airline’s operating expenses, these savings cannot be ignored.

To get these savings, they looked at the same data you have (planning, operations, maintenance, dispatch/scheduling, air traffic, ground handling, etc.), but they coalesced the data into a big picture. They didn’t study how individuals or siloed facets of a flight department function, they studied the interdependent relationships of the all the key areas of a flight operation. Guess what they found? 

Specific cultural changes can garner significant fuel savings. Small changes in the way people think and act—even if they’re not directly involved with fuel expenses—can have the kind of ripple effect that will reduce fuel costs and may positively impact the bottom line in other ways, too.

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What’s more, the analysts who discovered that specific cultural changes could save fuel were able to project, in real dollars, the savings each change would bring. To help track and prove their claims, the same analysts developed a dashboard that not only offers real time tracking of the fuel savings, but it provides tools to further manage and optimize the variables of flight operations.

That thinking, and those tools, are working their way into business aviation operations today.

Imagine being able to report to CFOs or airplane owners—with specificity—that a new way of thinking about fuel savings and tracking could save an average of 4.5% in annual fuel costs. Hopefully, you’re doing the math in your head right now. Better yet, imagine reporting, We’re doing the best we can knowing you’re backed by industry-leading fuel optimization tools and thinking.

Fuel in. Emissions Out.

Now, we cannot forget that what goes in as fuel comes out as emissions. Emissions reporting, already a requirement for most European flight operations, has become a reality for U.S.-based flight operations traveling overseas. If you don’t automatically equate the cost of fuel with the cost of emissions, it may be time to start.

ICAO is eyeing 2020 to have global emissions reporting standards and regulations in place that include the U.S., China and other countries holding out against today’s regulations. Are you preparing? If you’re a small operator who doesn’t meet the annual 1,000-ton CO2 reporting requirement, and resulting carbon credit purchases, you’re likely not worried. But you should be. When the regulators come calling, it will be as important to prove you don’t meet the requirements, as it will be to detail if and how you do.

The good news is that using the same dashboard tools that help optimize fuel consumption can track and report emissions. More importantly, the tools that help you save fuel, by extension, help lower emissions and thus the cost of carbon credits.

ETS Aviation, the company that pioneered the dashboard that many airlines rely on to help them optimize fuel consumption and track emissions, is now a part of Boeing/Jeppesen. That same team from ETS is working today with members from Jeppesen’s ITPS team, to make that dashboard a reality in reducing fuel consumption and emissions for global flight departments. Learn more by clicking here.

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Boeing’s Acquisition of ETS Aviation Brings New Fuel-Efficiency Capabilities to BA Market

As a global leader in partnering with militaries, commercial and corporate aviation operations, Boeing (Jeppesen’s parent company) recently acquired of ETS Aviation, the industry leader in creating new innovations in fuel management and emissions reporting.

The need to save on fuel costs and reduce emissions will soon be a single idea that sits atop most corporate flight department’s list of key concerns. As the market leader, serving more than 120 commercial airlines and corporate flight departments, ETS Aviation’s innovation, experience and vision represented the type of solutions that Jeppesen’s International Trip Planning Service (ITPS) clients expect. This acquisition was the best way to deliver on those expectations.

In a letter to customers, ETS Aviation’s founder and CEO David Carlisle explained, “As our relationship progressed, it became clear that a closer relationship would be beneficial to both parties and more importantly to our customers and the industry as a whole.” Carlisle concluded the letter by noting that, “…under the Boeing banner, (our products will) start to realize their full potential all over the world.”

What started as a business relationship to, among other things, support Jeppesen’s ITPS clients with emissions reporting quickly turned into a full-fledged partnership to help corporate flight departments save on fuel consumption as well. It didn’t take long for the two organizations to see new opportunites as one combined entity. To learn more about ETS Aviation and the role it will play in enabling the Jeppesen ITPS team to offer a new level of comprehensive global operational support, click here or contact your customer service representative.


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