Domestic airlines will start a new flight procedure to reduce fuel burn and cut operating costs. Under this procedure, airlines will not carry extra fuel for diversion to an alternate airport. Fuel cost accounts for 30-40 per cent of an airline's expense in India.
Air India, AirAsia India and IndiGo operated first trial flights after recieving approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Typically, airlines file a flight plan after factoring in diversion airport in case its flight is unable to land at the destination. Thus, the aircraft has to carry additional fuel back and forth. This is redundant when there is no diversion from the intended destination. There are regulations which permit flights without factoring a diversion airport.
Hyderabad was chosen as destination for trial flight because it has two runways, said Captain Digvijay Singh, who was part of the crew operating the flight. The decision to extend such flights would depend upon - availability of two runways at an airport and weather conditions like 5000 metres visibility.
Other crew members were Air India's director of operations Captain Amitabh Singh along with Captain Sunil Kumar, Captain Rajneesh Sharma, Captain Akhil Gupta and P K Gupta.
AirAsia India said the trials were carried out after a detailed analysis of over 58000 flights operated by the airline. " The trials that will be conducted over the next few months an post that the DGCA would look at extending the scheme to other airfields. This will result in fuel savings and go a long way in reducing our carbon emissions as part of our green initiatives," an AirAsia spokesperson said. The airline operated three flights to Hyderabad today under the procedure.
Typically a Boeing 787 requires around 15 tonnes fuel for a Delhi-Hyderabad trip factoring possible diversion to Bengaluru. Today Air India uplifted 13 tonnes for the trip. There was a saving of around 100 kilograms as fuel consumption was less. "The initiative will lead to reduction in fuel uplift per flight and would allow for higher commercial payload which means more passengers or cargo," said Captain Amitabh Singh.
Flight planning takes into account fuel required for taxiing, fuel for destination, holding over destination, diversion and holding over diversion plus contingency requirements like adverse weather. While Air India did not uplift fuel for diversion, the Boeing 787 was carrying additional fuel for hold over destination (Hyderabad). The procedure is being carried out in collaboration with airport operator and Airport Authority of India and steps taken to minimise risk by monitoring data and enroute weather.