Aviation

Breaking down Hawaiian Airlines’ fuel efficiency practices

While passengers are kicking back and enjoying Hawaiian Airlines’ award-winning hospitality, the airline is hard at work to get them to the islands using the least amount of fuel possible.

Fuel efficiency takes place at every stage of the Hawaiian Airlines travel experience, from waiting to take-off to the moment the aircraft’s wheels touch the runway.

The airline is continuously analysing its operations to identify opportunities to be more efficient – both on the ground and in the air.

Last year, Hawaiian Airlines lowered its annual jet fuel burn by seven million gallons. This reduced its annual carbon output by 86,300 metric tons – the equivalent to removing 18,323 cars off the road for one year.

“Hawaii is our mission as a destination airline, but more importantly, it’s home to most of our employees,” said Art Parra, senior manager of fuel efficiency at Hawaiian Airlines.

“We have a big responsibility in protecting and preserving our islands’ natural resources, and a part of that duty is making sure we are operating at a high level of fuel efficiency.”

Here, we walk through some of the ways the airline is reducing its carbon footprint…

One-engine taxiing

Did you know most twin-engine jet aircraft are able to taxi on one engine? When conditions allow, Hawaiian Airlines’ Airbus A330 pilots leverage this functionality to reduce fuel burn by taxiing the aircraft from the gate to the runway with one engine off.

The same is done upon arrival, with pilots shutting down one engine as they taxi from the runway to the gate. On average, 100 pounds of fuel per flight can be saved when using the single-engine taxi method with the airline’s A330.

Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330 at LAX
A Hawaiian Airlines Airbus A330 ready for take-off at LAX

PACE

Pilots onboard Hawaiian Airlines’ A330 are using the Pacelab Flight Profile Optimizer (FPO) to chart the quickest and most comfortable route from take-off to landing.

Hawaiian earlier this year became the first US carrier to adopt the technology, which augments flight plans done hours before departure by informing pilots throughout the flight about real-time aircraft data and meteorological information while recommending optimal altitudes to reduce fuel consumption.

As soon as the aircraft lifts off and begins to climb, PACE will recommend the most efficient path to reach cruising altitude.

Pilots can reference satellite information, including wind projections, potential turbulence and a snapshot of the aircraft’s current performance via the tablet-based PACE system.

Hawaiian Airlines estimates this platform will reduce our annual fuel consumption by an additional one per cent (approximately 1.3 million gallons of fuel) and prevent more than 12,000 pounds of carbon emissions – the equivalent to greenhouse gas emissions produced by driving 13,308 miles in an average car – from entering the atmosphere.

“Having previously removed heavy paper manuals and charts, Hawaiian is further increasing the utility of our electronic flight bag tablets by providing real-time decision support tools to allow pilots to optimise all phases of the flight, Capt. Brian Beres, senior director of flight standards and qualifications at Hawaiian Airlines, said when the airline’s introduction of PACE was announced.

Hawaiian Airlines pilots using PACE
Hawaiian Airlines Capt. Brian Beres, left, holds a tablet featuring the Pacelab Flight Profile Optimizer dashboard while preparing for a departure in the cockpit of an Airbus A330 aircraft

“This means guests arrive on our islands well-rested and on time to begin their vacation, while we further reduce our environmental footprint.”

The system will soon also become a major component of a larger initiative called long-range air traffic flow management. PACE will be programmed to recommend course adjustments on a latitudinal plane and provide dynamic rerouting to keep Hawaiian’s flights on schedule.

Making these tweaks to the path allows the airline decrease resistance against the elements like wind and bad weather, and get ahead of schedule enough that it can eventually slow its engines down.

These enhanced route plans will keep Hawaiian Airlines from burning more fuel than initially projected while maintaining its on-time performance.

Aircraft aerodynamics and pilot techniques

As they prepare to land, Hawaiian Airlines pilots utilise aircraft flaps – which can be seen out the window atop the wings – to achieve additional fuel savings.

The technology is straightforward: as the flap moves closer to the body of the aircraft, it reduces drag and fuel burn.

The airline is also working on implementing continuous decent arrival, a technique pilots use to glide on their flight path toward the airport while using minimal engine thrust.

It allows Hawaiian’s pilots to reduce fuel use by an estimated 200 pounds per arrival, compared to what is traditionally required in an aircraft decent.

When moving the aircraft to the gate, Hawaiian’s pilots are doing two things: using single-engine taxiing and shifting the throttle to idle reverse thrust. Putting the engines on idle followed by reverse thrust slows down the aircraft without frequent brake application.

Hawaiian Airlines A330 simulator
Hawaiian Airlines pilots training for fuel-efficient landing techniques using an A330 simulator at the carrier’s Honolulu-based headquarters

Upon landing, Hawaiian Airlines pilots are working to identify the best (of several) runway exits. The distance from the selected exit to its aircraft’s assigned gate determines the fuel-efficiency procedures the airline puts in place.

As the plane makes its way to the gate, Hawaiian Airlines also relies on its airport operations team and ensures they have the resources they need to receive the aircraft immediately upon arrival.

By being prepared, the airline can efficiently orchestrate the deplaning of hundreds of passengers, their bags and cargo, and avoid spending energy waiting.

Fleet modernisation

Our modern fleet and state-of-the-art dispatching programs allow Hawaiian Airlines to optimise all phases of flying, leading to reduced carbon emissions before, during and after each flight.

The airline’s multi-billion-dollar investment in a new narrow-body Airbus A321 fleet, the most fuel-efficient aircraft of its type, has led to 16 per cent lower fuel burn per trip, compared with previous generation aircraft.

By 2021, Hawaiian Airlines’ first wide-body Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will join its A321neos in helping the carrier fly greener.

Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner
Hawaiian Airlines’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

Engine-cleaning initiatives

In 2012, Hawaiian became the first carrier to earn aviation-based carbon credits thanks to our use of an environmentally friendly engine-washing system that significantly curbs carbon emissions.

Parra said the airline’s journey towards becoming more fuel-efficient never ends, it is steadfast in its commitment to fly smarter and become an eco-friendlier carrier.

“We are far from perfect, but it’s exciting and rewarding to know we are significantly reducing our environmental footprint by continuing to invest in advanced technology and perfecting our processes on every flight,” he added.

To learn more about Hawaiian Airlines’ corporate responsibility, including other ways the carrier is working to protect and preserve the beauty of its islands, click here.

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