Air New Zealand is reaching great heights in its bid to improve fuel efficiency. It has turned to electricity to power its aircraft while on the ground instead of aviation fuel. The move reduced carbon emissions by more than 6 million kg in its first year.
Traditionally on-board systems like air conditioning and lighting are powered by an Auxiliary Power Unit, a small engine in the tail of an aircraft, when on the ground. This, however, consumes jet fuel and generates carbon emissions. Now aircraft are plugged directly into electrical power at gates at both Auckland and Christchurch International Airports.
The reduction in Auxiliary Power Unit use has exceeded projected savings targets by more than 200%. The initiative launched in July 2017. One year later, more than 2 million kg of aviation fuel had been saved. This represents a fuel saving equivalent to 20 Boeing 777 aircraft flying from Auckland to Los Angeles, or the equivalent of removing 1,000 cars from the road.
The success of this project relied on the collaboration of around 1,000 jet pilots, 500 ramp staff and 140 engineering staff. Work is underway to identify opportunities to switch to electric ground power at Air New Zealand’s offshore destinations.