Every liter counts

Reducing fuel consumption and protecting the environment through product bundling

Energy is not free. That's why a significant part of the overall costs of operating an airline is traceable to the fuel consumption of its fleet. For example, in fiscal year 2013 the flight operations of the Lufthansa Group alone resulted in consumption of more than 9 million tons of kerosene at a cost of around 7.3 billion euros. So reducing fuel consumption and avoiding environmentally harmful emissions are among the most important goals at Lufthansa Group.

Many processes have a direct or indirect influence on the kerosene consumption of an aircraft fleet. Most of them are directly associated with flight operations, but aviation authorities' requirements, airports, and maintenance and supply processes can also have an effect on fuel consumption and emissions. And in order to bring about additional overall improvements, all the relevant influence factors must be brought together, monitored and coordinated. So on May 1, 2013, the Lufthansa Group founded the Fuel Efficiency department to bundle its measures aimed at reducing aircraft fuel consumption.

Fuel Efficiency controls all the activities of Lufthansa Technik and the Lufthansa Group airlines that aim to improve fuel efficiency, and is responsible for introducing parameters and reporting standards that are binding across the Group. A special, Group-wide innovation management program for fuel efficiency develops tailored packages for implementing economic and ecological fuel savings potential. The program includes experts from a variety of areas who are networked with each other for this purpose. In addition, the regularly scheduled Fuel Efficiency Conference serves as a forum for the speedy transfer of knowledge between the individual areas of the Group. The goal is to use all the fuel efficiency ideas and projects generated by this structure to save around 196 million euros by the end of 2015.

Lufthansa Technik plays a special role here. In recent years, the company has introduced a number of innovative fuel efficiency projects, such as a water-based engine wash and, in the future, the option of a CO2 pellet engine wash, or recontouring measures and laser welding procedures for repairing compressor blades in CFM56-5C engines. In addition, measures were developed to improve aerodynamics, including a new type of tool for measuring the optimization of air flow across the aircraft, and new surface structures. Moreover, Lufthansa Technik offers a retrofit sharklet upgrade for the Airbus A320 family of aircraft, and is spearheading the testing of new electromobility concepts for aircraft taxiing on the ground.

The most effective – and most expensive – measure for increasing fuel efficiency is doubtless the airlines' own investments in new technologies, especially in new aircraft types with new engines. However, ongoing flight operations also harbor great potential for increasing fuel efficiency and upgrading to technologies that reduce fuel consumption: the rigorous implementation of the results of the Lufthansa Technik's research and development projects alone has the potential to produce about 46.5 million euros in savings for the Lufthansa Group airlines through technical improvements, assuming that all the technical projects and measures can be appropriately integrated in the flight operations of the Lufthansa Group.

In the future Lufthansa Technik will continue to search for new savings potential, carry out new research projects, and introduce improved products to its customers – who will thus benefit not just from its modern maintenance and repair services, but also fuel-saving modifications. This requires coordinating the timing of all the services as well as supporting all areas of the Group and being available as the central contact partner for all the Group's airlines. Yet this is the best way to ensure that fuel is used as efficiently as possible. And if the company additionally succeeds in communicating the topic of fuel efficiency actively within the Group and helping all its employees identify potential for fuel savings, then the result will be a long-term benefit for the environment as well as cost reductions for aircraft operators – because every liter counts.