Etihad Airways has announced that it will operate a ‘Sustainable Flight’ from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi to celebrate the latest anniversary of the Etihad Greenliner Programme.
The Etihad Greenliner Programme, which is now two years old following its inception in 2019, uses the airline’s Boeing B787 fleet as a test bed for sustainability improvements in partnership with organisations across the aviation industry.
In October 2019, Etihad and Boeing signed a agreement pledging to work collaboratively on sustainable aviation solutions in both the Research & Development (R&D) domain and regular commercial flights. Since then, both the companies have collaborated on areas including inflight product, airspace management, flight deck tools, sustainable fuel, and even brought in expertise from NASA to look at noise levels created by aircraft as part of Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator programme.
Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said:
Since Etihad and Boeing signed the Greenliner agreement, the two companies have been focussed on delivering sustainability solutions for the aviation industry, despite the global pandemic. The Sustainable Flight on 23 October will be a celebration of everything that has been achieved in the past two years and a great flight for Etihad’s guests who will get to see what the future of commercial air travel looks like. The fact that sustainability has stayed on the agenda during the pandemic is testament to just how important the topic is to Etihad – the sustainability challenges faced globally will still be around when COVID-19 is no longer an issue.
With two years of ecoFlights trialling select improvements in sustainability completed as part of the Greenliner Programme, Etihad is operating this special celebratory flight to bring together the best of the past two years into a single flight. Flight EY20, from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi International Airport on 23rd October 2021, will be operated with Etihad’s signature Greenliner aircraft, with a livery specifically created to recognise the Greenliner Programme and its call to action for the aviation industry.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline states that based on pre-flight estimations, the flight will emit 72% less CO2e in total, and 56% less CO2e per unit of payload than the equivalent flight operated in 2019, thanks to a suite of interventions that will be implemented before, during and even after the flight.
This is how Etihad states the steps that it will follow during the flight for minimum carbon emissions:
Prior to the flight:
- The aircraft will be washed to ensure optimal aerodynamics and efficiency, including a dedicated foam washing process for the engines, developed in partnership with General Electric, manufacturer of the 787’s fuel efficient GEnX engines
- Cutting edge software in development by partner SATAVIA will model contrail formation for the flight, which will be used to optimise routing. By minimising contrails, the flight will reduce its indirect impact on the environment through the reduction of contrails that contribute to global warming
- Effects from contrails will be considered alongside other factors that directly contribute to fuel burn such as wind speed, temperature, air pressure and cloud cover
- Collectively, the pre-flight planning will ensure the most efficient route possible for the conditions present on the day is loaded into the flight computer – all before the aircraft leaves the ground
- Guests checking in at the airport will receive incentives for flying without check-in bags, or with lightweight luggage – encouraging Guests to consider the environment when deciding what to take on their journey and rewarding those who chose to travel light.
Once in flight:
- The aircraft will consume a 38% blend of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), ensuring a significant quantity of the fuel consumed is sourced from sustainable sources, reducing overall emissions
- Inflight tools such as Boeing’s FlightDeck Advisor and engagement with ANSPs will aid the pilots in achieving the most efficient climb profile out of Heathrow, course while enroute, and descent profile into Abu Dhabi
- Consumables, such as potable water, will be loaded based on expected consumption to reduce the total weight of the aircraft and save fuel
- When landing at Abu Dhabi International Airport, the aircraft will taxi to the stand using only a single engine, again reducing fuel burn
- Once at the gate, the aircraft will be serviced by Etihad’s new fleet of electric vehicles for ground logistics such as baggage unloading
Stay up to date: Sign up for my newsletter to never miss latest Aviation and Travel news.
- Guests will select locally-sourced dining options and be provided with lightweight stainless-steel cutlery from Sola Cutlery, along with a range of carefully selected products from crockery to inflight meal trays to dental kits – all specially sourced for the flight
- All products onboard have been selected to ensure the highest standards of sustainability using perspectives on sourcing, weight, and a key focus on the full product lifecycle (including end-of-life recycling) through a partnership with serviceware design company, deSter.
- The food served onboard will include vegan options and not use unsustainable products such as beef and palm oil, giving guests the opportunity to eat sustainably
- Guests will receive personal water bottles, minimising single-use paper cups and waste during the flight
- All waste will be segregated to ensure the highest possible levels of recycling in Abu Dhabi
- The flight will be crewed by a dedicated group of Etihad Green Ambassadors who will offer feedback to the Etihad service delivery teams to continue the evolution of Etihad’s product. While on board, they will be available to Guests who wish to know more about the EY20 Sustainable Flight and the airline’s sustainability initiatives.
- The data gathered from the aircraft’s sensors will be added to Etihad’s growing database on flight performance, analysed using tools from Greenliner partner, GE Digital.
- This analysis monitors flight performance and allows engineers and pilots to quickly recognise patterns of unsustainable activities, and to take remedial actions as needed.
On top of all this, for every passenger on board, Etihad will plant a tree in Abu Dhabi’s mangrove plantations to contribute to offsetting future flying. The Etihad Mangrove initiative follows the introduction of offsets purchasable by Guests through CarbonClick and the complete offset of the signature Greenliner aircraft’s operations for the entirety of 2021. These offsets have been sourced from the Makame Savannah REDD Project – developed by Carbon Tanzania and include c.80,000 tCO2e offsets, equivalent to the CO2 consumed by 100,000 trees in a year.
Tony Douglas, Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said:
The Sustainable Flight will be our latest ecoFlight of many already completed on our 787 Dreamliner, but the ambition and intent of this flight stands it apart from anything we’ve ever done previously. It’s no understatement to say this will be our most sustainable flight to date, as well as an accurate look at what the future of flying will look like. This flight will put into practice all our learnings over the last two years through the Etihad Greenliner programme, which has allowed us to test SAF, eco-friendly products, and a range of operational efficiencies; reduce single use plastic on board and practice optimised flight route planning and continuous descent. We understand that current and near-future technology can only take us and the aviation industry so far. We urgently need to see fundamental advances in technology and support from governments and regulators across the world, so we can overcome the current challenges to reaching the industry target of zero emissions by 2050.
Featured image by Etihad Airways
What do you think of Etihad Airways’ Sustainable Flight? Let me know in the comments section below.