United Airlines' transpacific emissions trial saved 1,564 USgal (5,927 litres) of fuel and 14.8t of carbon emissions today, demonstrating efficiencies achieved by NextGen technology but falling short of the reductions the Chicago company anticipated under optimal conditions.
United expected Flight 870 to save more than 2,000 USgal of fuel and up to 24.9t of emissions under ideal weather conditions.
The Boeing 747-400 flight used 11 initiatives from gate-to-gate to work toward its goal. Efforts included priority takeoff clearance, access to restricted airspace around Sydney airport, inflight rerouting based on up-to-the-minute fuel data, continuous descent into San Francisco International airport and a tailored arrival.
The flight from Sydney to San Francisco was the last demonstration in the Asia and South Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (ASPIRE) for 2008.
Airservices Australia, Air New Zealand and the US FAA signed up to ASPIRE in February in a move designed to accelerate the development of air traffic control (ATC) procedures designed to reduce emissions.
The FAA says northern and western Pacific service providers and Asian flag carriers are likely to join ASPIRE. More demonstration flights may follow as early as the third quarter of 2009, after an ASPIRE annual report is published during the second quarter, a FAA spokesman says.
United's flight data will be analysed along with results from Air New Zealand and Qantas, which participated in similar demonstrations on 12 September and 22 October.
Air New Zealand's Boeing 777 flight from Auckland to San Francisco burned 1,200 USgal less fuel and emitted 11t less carbon monoxide than usual.