TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2017
Airways Tackles Fuel Shortage with Increased Conservation Measures
New Zealand’s air traffic control provider is implementing fuel conservation measures to help alleviate the impact of the Auckland aviation fuel shortage. It expects up to 10 days of disruption to passengers while Airways enforces stricter air traffic sequencing and normal fuel supplies are restored.
Using advanced aircraft sequencing technology, Airways is able to queue aircraft arrivals and departures at New Zealand’s major airports in the most efficient way to avoid air traffic congestion across the national network and reduce fuel burn.
“This is an important tool for us which, under normal operating conditions, is responsible for around 11,500 tonnes of fuel savings for airlines annually,” Airways acting General Manager of System Operations Tim Boyle says. “Due to the current fuel shortage, we’re enhancing this capability to reduce consumption as much as possible.”
Airways estimates the amount of fuel these measures could save would enable an additional nine return flights from Auckland to Wellington daily.
Aircraft departing major airports will be held on the ground with engines off until they can be given an optimum departure slot that allows them the most uninterrupted and efficient route to their destination. Air Traffic Controllers will also give priority take-offs and landings to larger and heavier aircraft, which are the biggest fuel burners.
“This is the equivalent of using ramp signals at motorway on-ramps – in this case we’re keeping the red light on longer than usual to keep things moving more smoothly along the main routes,” Mr Boyle says.
Implementing conservation measures at this increased level will mean that the overall network performance will be slower than normal.
“Passengers may notice that they are held on the ground for longer than usual. This is because it is better to have aircraft holding on the ground with the engines off, rather than slowing down en-route and burning more fuel in the air.”
Rough weather across the country over the past few days has put additional pressure on the aviation network.
“We are working closely with our airline and airport customers to conserve fuel and keep the national network running as smoothly as possible,” Mr Boyle says.