Hawaiian Airlines initiatives reduce fuel burn
Updated: Feb 12
Despite Hawaii's unique geographical challenges, which result in additional obstacles to biofuel production and disproportionately high jet fuel consumption, Hawaiian, the state’s largest and longest-serving airline, continues to lower its annual jet fuel burn.
“Since the inception of the fuel efficiency campaign, we have steadily implemented initiatives to reach almost 4% of the annual fuel budget,” said Arturo Parra, senior manager of fuel efficiency at Hawaiian Airlines, in an interview with Jet Fuel Innovation News. “In 2019, we achieved a reduction in jet fuel burn of 8.5 million gallons, compared to our 2015 baseline.”
According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, a record 9.9 million tourists traveled to the state in 2018, at a minimum 4,000 miles roundtrip. Due to high demand from airlines, business carriers and various military agencies, flying to and from Hawaii, jet fuel accounts for one-third of all petroleum usage in the state--the largest share of total petroleum consumption for jet fuel of any state except Alaska, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA).
“Biofuels are a critical element to achieve our industry’s sustainability goals,” Parra said. “However, when it comes to sourcing biofuels, we are challenged with limited land in Hawaii and, as a result, the emissions caused by transporting the fuel from its production point.”
In response to mounting pressure within the aviation industry to reduce emissions, Hawaiian Airlines has instead implemented initiatives to optimize efficiency at various stages of travel.
“In 2019, we became the first U.S. carrier to adopt this technology,” Parra said. “It 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.”
The airline’s pilots regularly use only one engine when taxiing between the gate and runway; leverage adjustable aircraft flaps to reduce drag, resulting in lower fuel burn; and reduce their reliance on the brakes by shifting their planes in idle reverse thrust upon arrival. Pilots also connect their aircraft to cleaner external power sources at the gate to reduce jet fuel consumption.
Before and during flights, Hawaiian relies on state-of-the-art dispatching programs to optimize all phases of a trip. The airline’s A330 pilots on their long-haul and busiest trans-Pacific routes have access to the Pacelab Flight Profile Optimizer, software that uses satellite communication to allow charting of the most fuel-efficient flight trajectory.
Hawaiian also has plans to modernize its fleet, including with a multibillion-dollar investment in a new narrowbody A321 neo fleet, the most fuel-efficient aircraft of its type, which has a 16% lower fuel burn per trip, compared with previous generation aircraft, and the more fuel-efficient widebody 787-9 Dreamliner.
Other sustainability efforts of the Honolulu-based airline include statistical analysis to plan the right amount of reserve fuel while meeting FAA requirements, participation in carbon-offset programs and investments to equip all jet-bridges in Honolulu (HNL), Kahului (OGG) and Lihu‘e (LIH) with electrical air conditioning, which will save an estimated 250,000 gallons of jet fuel.
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