Air France’s 1h20min flight AF6129 from Toulouse-Blagnac to Paris-Orly on Thursday completed the world’s lowest CO2 emissions flight. To achieve this feat, Air France did everything possible to reduce noise hindrance and greenhouse gas emissions, including use of a 50% mix of sustainable biofuel, optimised flight procedures, and reduced on-board mass.
This commercial flight is part of an ambitious company programme to contribute to the fight against climate change. By using a mix of conventional kerosene and biokerosene made from hydrogenated used vegetable oils, Air France flight AF6129 acted directly on the main source of aircraft CO2 emissions. Emissions on this flight amounted to 54g of CO2 per passenger-km – half that emitted on a conventional flight.
The biofuel used constitutes a renewable, sustainable energy source that has none of the environmental or social impacts linked to the use of agricultural biomass: made from used vegetable oil, this type of biofuel does not compete with the food chain nor does it deplete water resources. The use of this type of sustainable biofuel was recognised by the American Society for Testing Material (ASTM), a standards organisation that drafts and publishes technical standards, in summer 2011.
Eco-piloting and flight procedure optimisation: To reduce fuel consumption and cut CO2 emissions at the same time as they guarantee flight safety, Air France’s pilots, in conjunction with air traffic control, applied the most fuel-efficient procedures in each flight phase. In all, some 11,000 metric tons of CO2 would be saved if all La Navette shuttle flights were able to apply these eco-piloting flight procedures.
Reduced on-board mass: Lightening the aircraft is a priority quest in every area: every kilogramme of weight removed represents a saving of 80 metric tons of CO2 per year. The aircraft on the fully optimised Toulouse-Paris flight was equipped with a new seat that is both lighter and more comfortable, as is the company’s entire short-haul fleet. Weighing 40% less than the conventional seat, it combines comfort and eco-friendliness. In addition to providing increased leg-room, the seat also helps to save 1,700 metric tons of jetfuel a year.
In addition to seating, all cabin equipment is concerned, including serving equipment (containers, trolleys, storage) whose mass is being reduced by an average 15% per year between 2006 and 2012.
Continuous improvements to the Air France fleet: Air France is pursuing a long-term ambitious policy to improve the energy performance of its aircraft. Fleet modernisation is an Air France priority. With an average age of 8.9 years for its long-haul fleet, and of 9.5 years for its medium-haul fleet, the company operates one of Europe’s most modern and rationalised fleets.