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10 / 2001 - ISSUE 2

getting to grips with FUEL ECONOMY

getting to
grips with
F U E L
ECONOMY

Flight Operations Support - Customer Services Directorate

Flight Operations Support & Line Assistance

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY


MANAGING FLIGHT OPERATIONS WITH
RECOMMENDATIONS ON FUEL CONSERVATION

A FLIGHT OPERATIONS VIEW

STL 945.7190/99

November 2001
Issue 2

Flight Operations Support & Line Assistance

STL 945.7190/99

November 2001
Issue 2

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1.

PREAMBLE...................................................................................................................... 11

2.

INTRODUCTION: BASIC PREMISES AND OUTLINE.................................................... 12

3.

PRE-FLIGHT PROCEDURES ......................................................................................... 14


3.1

Center of gravity...................................................................................................... 14
3.1.1 Preliminary ................................................................................................... 14
3.1.2 Automatic center of gravity management .................................................... 14
3.1.3 Influence on fuel consumption ..................................................................... 15
3.1.4 Summary...................................................................................................... 17

3.2

Excess weight ......................................................................................................... 18


3.2.1 Aircraft weight .............................................................................................. 18
3.2.2 Overload effect............................................................................................. 19
3.2.3 Means to diminish aircraft weight ................................................................ 22
a) Zero fuel weight..................................................................................... 22
b) Embarked fuel ....................................................................................... 23
Embarked fuel minimization .................................................................. 23
Fuel transportation ................................................................................ 25

3.3

A.P.U....................................................................................................................... 26
3.3.1 Preliminary ................................................................................................... 26
3.3.2 Fuel conservation and A.P.U. ...................................................................... 26
3.3.3 Optimisation procedures .............................................................................. 27
3.3.4 Summary...................................................................................................... 28

3.4

Taxiing..................................................................................................................... 28
3.4.1 Preliminary ................................................................................................... 28

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

3.4.2 Engine-out taxi operation ............................................................................. 29


Taxiing out with one (or two) engine(s) shut down ...................................... 29
Taxiing in with one (or two) engine(s) shut down ........................................ 29
During taxi in and out, one (or two) engine(s) shut down ............................ 29
3.4.3 Summary...................................................................................................... 30
3.5
4.

Conclusion on pre-flight procedures ....................................................................... 30

WITHIN THE FLIGHT ENVELOPE.................................................................................. 31


4.1

Climb ....................................................................................................................... 31
4.1.1 Preliminary ................................................................................................... 31
4.1.2 Managed mode ............................................................................................ 32
a) A300-600, A310, A320 family, A330 ..................................................... 32
b) A340 family............................................................................................ 34
4.1.3 Selected mode ............................................................................................. 36
4.1.4 Crossover altitude versus optimum altitude................................................. 43

4.2

Step climb ............................................................................................................... 46


4.2.1 Preliminary ................................................................................................... 46
4.2.2 Trade-off between manoeuvrability and economy....................................... 46
4.2.3 Delays in altitude follow-up .......................................................................... 48

4.3

Cruise...................................................................................................................... 49
4.3.1 Preliminary ................................................................................................... 49
4.3.2 Managed mode ............................................................................................ 50
a) Economy Mach number ........................................................................ 50
b) Time/fuel relation................................................................................... 55
4.3.3 From Managed to Selected Mode ............................................................... 57

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

4.3.4 Selected mode ............................................................................................. 59


a) Preliminary .........................................................................................59
b) Flight at a given Mach number...........................................................61
b.1 Optimum altitude. .......................................................................

61

b.2 Optimum altitude on short stage ..................................................... 68


c)

Flight at a given Flight level................................................................... 71

d) Wind influence....................................................................................... 74
4.4

Descent ................................................................................................................... 79
4.4.1 Preliminary ................................................................................................... 79
4.4.2 Managed mode ............................................................................................ 80
4.4.3 Selected mode ............................................................................................. 81
Fuel consumption with respect to speed ..................................................... 81
Premature descent....................................................................................... 87
Temperature influence ................................................................................. 88

4.5

Holding .................................................................................................................... 89
4.5.1 Preliminary ................................................................................................... 89
4.5.2 Various configuration / speed combinations ................................................ 90
4.5.3 Linear holding .............................................................................................. 94

4.6

Approach................................................................................................................. 97
4.6.1 Decelerated and stabilised approach .......................................................... 97
4.6.2 Premature landing gear extension............................................................. 100

4.7

Conclusion within the flight envelope.................................................................... 102


4.7.1 With regard to the climb phase: ................................................................. 102
4.7.2 With regard to the step climb phase: ......................................................... 102
4.7.3 With regard to the cruise phase: ................................................................ 102

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

4.7.4 With regard to the descent phase:............................................................. 102


4.7.5 With regard to holding:............................................................................... 103
4.7.6 With regard to the approach phase: .......................................................... 103
5.

GENERAL CONCLUSION............................................................................................. 104

APPENDICES
APPENDIX 1............................ ECONOMY MACH NUMBER ACCORDING TO COST INDEX
.............................................................................................................................................

AND FL

APPENDIX 2......................................................................................... OPTIMUM ALTITUDES

116

APPENDIX 3......................................................OPTIMUM ALTITUDES ON SHORT STAGES

120

APPENDIX 4............................................................ LONG RANGE CRUISE MACH NUMBER

123

APPENDIX 5......................... WIND ALTITUDE TRADE FOR CONSTANT SPECIFIC RANGE

127

APPENDIX 6.............................................................................................................. DESCENT

128

APPENDIX 7............................................................................................................... HOLDING

132

List of Figures
Figure 1:

Specific range variation for different center of gravity positions ........................ 15

Figure 2:

Specific range variation versus CG Variation MO.82 ..................................... 16

Figure 3:

Fuel burn penalty. Specific range variations for the case


of 1000 kg excess weight .................................................................................. 20

Figure 4:

Fuel burn penalty. Specific range variations for the case


of 1000 kg excess weight .................................................................................. 20

Figure 5:

Fuel burn penalty. Specific range variations for the case


of 1000 kg excess weight .................................................................................. 21

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

Figure 6:

Fuel burn penalty. Specific range variations for the case


of 1000 kg less excess weight........................................................................... 21

Figure 7:

Contingency fuel with respect to flight distance ................................................ 24

Figure 8:

Climb profiles ..................................................................................................... 31

Figure 9:

Climb laws ......................................................................................................... 32

Figure 10:

Profile used for the computation........................................................................ 37

Figure 11:

consumption between the optimum climb law and different climb laws......... 37

Figure 12:

time between the optimal climb law and different climb laws......................... 38

Figure 13:

time between the optimal climb law and different climb laws....................... 398

Figure 14:

consumption between the optimum climb law and different climb laws...... 389

Figure 15:

time between the optimum climb law and different climb laws...................... 39

Figure 16:

consumption between the optimum climb law and different climb laws......... 40

Figure 17:

Annual potential savings per aircraft if 10 kg fuel is saved for each climb ....... 42

Figure 18:

Climb law ........................................................................................................... 43

Figure 19:

Specific range variations for different weights and altitudes ............................. 46

Figure 20:

Optimum altitude ............................................................................................... 46

Figure 21:

Step climb profiles ............................................................................................. 47

Figure 22:

Economic cruise Mach number for various flight levels and cost indices ......... 50

Figure 23:

Economic cruise Mach number for various flight levels and cost indices ........ 51

Figure 24:

Economic cruise Mach number for various flight levels and cost indices ........ 51

Figure 25:

Economic cruise Mach number for various flight levels and cost indices ........ 52

Figure 26:

Economic cruise Mach number for various weights and cost indices ............... 52

Figure 27:

Economic cruise Mach number for various weights and cost indices ............... 53

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

Figure 28:

Economic cruise Mach number for various weights and cost indices ............... 53

Figure 29:

Economic cruise Mach number for various weights and cost indices ............... 54

Figure 30:

Economic cruise Mach number for various weights and cost indices ............... 54

Figure 31:

Time/fuel relation for a typical stage length. Stage length: 3000 Nm, M 0.8..... 55

Figure 32:

Time/fuel relation for a typical stage length. Stage length: 2000 Nm, M 0.8..... 56

Figure 33:

Time/fuel relation for a typical stage length. Stage length: 4000 Nm, M 0.8..... 56

Figure 34:

Fuel consumption increment on a 2000 Nm stage length, when the pilot


switches in selected mode and increases Mach number .................................. 57

Figure 35:

Fuel consumption increment on a 2000 Nm stage length, when the pilot


switches in selected mode and increases Mach number ................................. 58

Figure 36:

Fuel consumption increment on a 2000 Nm stage length, when the pilot


switches in selected mode and increases Mach number .................................. 58

Figure 37:

Fuel consumption and time for different flight levels and Mach numbers
on a 3000 Nm trip. TOW=130t. ......................................................................... 60

Figure 38:

Fuel consumption and time for different flight levels and Mach numbers
on a 2000 Nm trip. TOW=60t............................................................................. 60

Figure 39:

Fuel consumption and time for different flight levels and Mach numbers
on a 3000 Nm trip. TOW=210t. ......................................................................... 61

Figure 40:

Fuel consumption increment when flying above optimum altitude.


Stage length: 1000 Nm. M 0.78......................................................................... 62

Figure 41:

Fuel consumption increment when flying above optimum altitude.


Stage length: 1000 Nm. M 0.78......................................................................... 62

Figure 42:

Fuel consumption increment when flying below optimum altitude. M 0.8 ......... 63

Figure 43:

Fuel increment when flying below optimum altitude. M 0.8............................... 63

Figure 44:

Fuel consumption increment when flying below optimum altitude. M 0.8 ......... 64

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

Figure 45:

Optimum flight profile......................................................................................... 64

Figure 46:

Optimum altitude with respect to aircraft weight................................................ 65

Figure 47:

Optimum altitude with respect to aircraft weight................................................ 65

Figure 48:

Optimum altitude with respect to aircraft weight................................................ 66

Figure 49:

Optimum altitude with respect to aircraft weight................................................ 66

Figure 50:

Optimum altitude with respect to aircraft weight................................................ 67

Figure 51:

Optimum altitude with respect to aircraft weight................................................ 67

Figure 52:

Optimum altitude on short stage........................................................................ 69

Figure 53:

Optimum altitude on short stage........................................................................ 69

Figure 54:

Optimum altitude on short stage........................................................................ 70

Figure 55:

Optimum altitude on short stage........................................................................ 70

Figure 56:

LRC Versus MRC at Given altitude ................................................................... 71

Figure 57:

Long Range Cruise Mach number..................................................................... 72

Figure 58:

Long Range Cruise Mach number..................................................................... 72

Figure 59:

Long Range Cruise Mach number..................................................................... 73

Figure 60:

Long Range Cruise Mach number..................................................................... 73

Figure 61:

Long Range Cruise Mach number..................................................................... 74

Figure 62:

Fuel consumption and trip time for various Mach numbers and flight levels
in windy conditions. TOW=130t. ........................................................................ 75

Figure 63:

Fuel consumption and trip time for various Mach numbers and flight levels
in windy conditions. TOW=80t. .......................................................................... 75

Figure 64:

Fuel consumption and trip time for various Mach numbers and flight levels
in windy conditions. TOW=250t. ........................................................................ 76

Figure 65:

Wind influence on specific range...77

Figure 66:

Wind altitude trade for constant specific range ................................................. 78

Figure 67:

Descent profiles ................................................................................................. 79

Figure 68:

Descent consumption from the same point in cruise......................................... 82

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

Figure 69:

Descent consumption from the same point in cruise......................................... 82

Figure 70:

Descent consumption from the same point in cruise......................................... 83

Figure 71:

Descent consumption from the same point in cruise......................................... 83

Figure 72:

Descent consumption from the same point in cruise......................................... 84

Figure 73:

Annual potential money savings for a 20 KT decrease in descent speed......... 85

Figure 74:

Profile of a too early descent ............................................................................. 87

Figure 75:

Green dot speed definition ................................................................................ 89

Figure 76:

Fuel flow with respect to holding altitude for several configurations ................. 90

Figure 77:

Fuel flow with respect to holding altitude for several configurations ................. 90

Figure 78:

Fuel flow with respect to holding altitude for several configurations ................. 91

Figure 79:

Fuel flow with respect to holding altitude for several configurations ................. 91

Figure 80:

Description of the holding options ..................................................................... 95

Figure 81:

The stabilized approach .................................................................................... 97

Figure 82:

The decelerated approach................................................................................. 98

Figure 83:

Money saved by the decelerated approach in comparison with the


stabilized one..................................................................................................... 99

Figure 84:

Premature landing gear extension................................................................... 100

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

List of Tables
Table 1:

Fuel consumption variation between a 20% CG and a 35% CG.


Distance: 1000 Nm. ........................................................................................... 17

Table 2:

Fuel consumption increment for 1000 kg excess weight................................... 22

Table 3:

Extra fuel for single engine use rather than the A.P.U. ..................................... 27

Table 4:

Climb parameters for different cost indices (climb to FL330) ............................ 33

Table 5:

Delta in fuel and in time between a high and a low cost index.......................... 34

Table 6:

Comparison between the previous climb speed laws and the new ones.......... 36

Table 7:

Delta in fuel and in time between the optimum climb law and the most
unfavorable one ................................................................................................. 40

Table 8:

Annual fuel savings corresponding to 10 kg fuel savings.................................. 41

Table 9:

Recommended climb laws................................................................................. 42

Table 10:

Standard climb laws .......................................................................................... 44

Table 11:

Crossover altitude and first optimum altitude .................................................... 44

Table 12:

Delta in fuel and time when flying at crossover altitude instead of flying
at optimum altitude. Stage length: 1000 Nm. Cruise Mach number.................. 45

Table 13:

Percentage of fuel increment and of time gain when flying at crossover


altitude instead of flying at optimum altitude. Stage length: 1000 Nm.
Cruise Mach number. ........................................................................................ 45

Table 14:

Delta between optimum FL and MAX FL........................................................... 48

Table 15:

Fuel increment for delayed climb to FL 370 at optimum weight ........................ 48

Table 16:

Fuel increment in percent for a delayed climb................................................... 49

Table 17:

Delta in fuel and time in the case of a 0.005 Mach increase............................. 59

Table 18:

Fuel consumption variation with head/tailwind .................................................. 76

Table 19:

Relevant parameters for a descent from FL 370 at different cost indices


(standard conditions) ......................................................................................... 80

Table 20:

Delta time and fuel between a descent at a high and a low cost index
(decent from FL 370, standard conditions)........................................................ 81
9
GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

Table 21:

Annual potential fuel savings for a 20 KT decrease in descent speed.............. 84

Table 22:

Comparison of descent A319/A320/A321 ......................................................... 85

Table 23:

Comparison of descent A330 GE/PW/RR ......................................................... 86

Table 24:

Comparison of descent A340 CFM ................................................................... 86

Table 25:

Comparison of descent A300-600 ..................................................................... 86

Table 26:

Comparison of descent A310 ............................................................................ 87

Table 27:

Fuel increment for a one minute early descent from flight level 350.
Cruise Mach number ......................................................................................... 88

Table 28:

Recommended holding configurations .............................................................. 89

Table 29:

Percentage of fuel flow increment when holding at S speed in conf 1 instead


of holding at green dot speed in clean conf. Flight level 100 ............................ 92

Table 30:

Fuel increment when holding at S speed in conf 1 instead of holding at


green dot speed in clean conf for a period of 15 minutes. Flight level 100 ....... 93

Table 31:

Maximum recommended speeds ...................................................................... 94

Table 32:

Fuel saved by reduction from M 0.78 to green dot speed at FL 350................. 95

Table 33:

Fuel saved by reduction from M 0.82 to green dot speed at FL 390................. 95

Table 34:

Fuel saved by reduction from M 0.82 to green dot speed at FL 390................. 96

Table 35:

Fuel saved by reduction from M 0.8 to green dot speed at FL 350................... 96

Table 36:

Money and fuel saved thanks to the second option .......................................... 96

Table 37:

Fuel increment between a stabilized approach and a decelerated approach ... 98

Table 38:

Potential annual savings due to the decelerated approach............................... 99

Table 39:

Fuel increment in case of premature extension .............................................. 101

Table 40:

Potential annual savings.................................................................................. 101

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

10

1.

PREAMBLE

The energy crisis of the 70's woke airlines up to the seriousness of fuel savings.
Nowadays, this fear of a sudden or even gradual fuel price rise, coupled with a very
competitive and deregulated aviation market forces commercial airlines once again into
drastic measures to save fuel. Airlines try to reduce their operational costs in every facet of
their business. Fuel conservation has become one of the major preoccupations for all
airlines. Fuel bills indeed are representing a considerable part of overall aircraft operating
costs. All ways and means to keep fuel costs under optimal control have to be rationally
envisaged, safety being of course the number one priority in any airline operation. Some
operational costs cannot be cut down without degrading safety and are therefore totally
inflexible.
The purpose of this document is to examine the influence of flight operations on fuel
conservation with a view towards providing recommendations to enhance fuel economy.
No dedicated attempt is made to identify the trade-off of fuel saved versus the other
operating variables, such as cost or trip time. This is the scope of another brochure called
"Getting to Grips with the Cost Index: Balancing Cost of Fuel and Cost of Time".
The present brochure systematically reviews fuel conservation aspects relative to ground
and flight performance. Whilst the former pertains to center of gravity position, excess
weight, auxiliary power unit (A.P.U.) operations and taxiing, the latter details climb, step
climb, cruise, descent, holding and approach. Wind/altitude trade effects are also reviewed
to provide airline pilots, engineers, or managers with useful insights on operational factors.
None of the information contained herein is intended to replace procedures or
recommendations contained in the Flight Crew Operating Manuals (FCOM), the objective
being rather to highlight the areas where flight crews can contribute significantly to fuel
savings, circumstances permitting.
In reviewing the fuel economy theme with regard to our whole fleet (A300-600, the A310,
the A319/320/321, the A330 and A340) the major tool used was PEP for Windows, the
Airbus' software enabling airlines' operation engineering departments to compute aircraft
performance as a function of specified operational conditions.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

11

Would you please send your comments and remarks to the following contact point at
Airbus. The topic of fuel conservation has been the subject of a lot of debate/controversy,
action/inaction in recent years and we value your contributions very much. These will be
taken into account in our follow-up with you as well as in the following issues to be edited.

Flight Operations Support & Line Assistance


Customer Services Directorate
1, Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, BP 33
31707 BLAGNAC Cedex - FRANCE
TELEX
AIRBU 530526E
SITA
TLSBI7X
TELEFAX 33/(0)5 61 93 29 68 or 33/(0)5 61 93 44 65

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

12

2.

INTRODUCTION: BASIC PREMISES AND OUTLINE

This brochure considers the two flight management modes: the "managed" mode and the
"selected" mode.
The managed mode corresponds to flight management by means of a dedicated tool, the
flight management system (FMS). Crews interface through the multipurpose control and
display unit (MCDU) introducing basic flight variables such as weight, temperature, altitude,
winds and the cost index. From these data, the FMS computes the various flight control
parameters such as the climb law, step climbs, economic Mach number, optimum altitude,
descent law. Hence, when activated, this mode enables almost automatic flight
management.
When in managed mode, aircraft performance data is extracted from the FMS database.
These same databases were simplified to alleviate computation density and calculation
operations in the FMS; results may therefore be less precise than reality but they constitute
useful indications for experienced guidance.
When in selected mode, crews conduct the flight and flight parameters such as speed,
altitude and heading have to be manually introduced on the flight control unit (FCU). The
databases used to compute aircraft performance in this configuration are used on
ground-based mainframe computers; hence they are more complete and more precise
than those of the FMS. For this reason, straight comparisons between performance results
stemming from these two modes necessitates adjustments beyond the scope of this
brochure.
Calculations presented here were made taking into account average numbers of take-offs
and landings for the year 1998 and for the following aircraft types:
A300-600: 1300 take-offs and landings per year per aircraft
A310: 1100 take-offs and landings per year per aircraft
A319: 1800 take-offs and landings per year per aircraft
A320: 1700 take-offs and landings per year per aircraft
A321: 2000 take-offs and landings per year per aircraft
A330: 1200 take-offs and landings per year per aircraft
A340: 700 take-offs and landings per year per aircraft
Assumed price of fuel: 1 US dollar per gallon

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

13

3.

PRE-FLIGHT PROCEDURES

Operation of the aircraft starts with the aircraft on ground during aircraft preparation and
loading.
This section should highlight the impact of some ground operations on fuel consumption.
Even if these operations enable only little savings in comparison with savings made during
the cruise phase, ground staff have to be sensitive to these and should get adapted
professional practices.
This part is divided into four different sections:

The first section is about the center of gravity position and its impact on fuel
consumption.

The second one is about excess weight and fuel consumption.

The third section is about Auxiliary Power Unit consumption.

The fourth section is about fuel saving taxi practices.

3.1

Center of gravity

3.1.1 Preliminary
The gross weight is the sum of the dry operating weight, payload and fuel. The resultant
force acts through the center of gravity of the aircraft. The balance chart allows to
determine the overall center of gravity of the airplane taking into account the center of
gravity of the empty aircraft, the fuel distribution and the payload. The center of gravity
must be checked to be within the allowable range referred to as the center of gravity
envelope.
In terms of fuel consumption, forward center of gravity needs a nose up pitching moment,
which adds to the one created by weight and leads to an increase in fuel consumption
because of induced drag. It is better to have the center of gravity as far aft as possible.
However, such a center of gravity position deteriorates an aircraft's dynamic stability.
3.1.2 Automatic center of gravity management
AIRBUS has developed a trim tank transfer system, which controls the center of gravity of
the airplane. When the airplane is in cruise, the system optimizes the center of gravity
position to save fuel by reducing the drag on the airplane. The system either transfers fuel
to the trim tank (aft transfer) or from the trim tank (forward transfer). This movement of fuel
changes the center of gravity position. The crew can also manually select forward fuel
transfer.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

14

The Fuel Control and Management Computer (FCMC) calculates the center of gravity of
the airplane according to the aerodynamic surfaces and compares the result to a target
value. From this calculation, the FCMC determines the quantity of fuel to be moved aft or
forward in flight (usually one aft fuel-transfer is carried out during each flight).
3.1.3 Influence on fuel consumption
The following graphs show the gain or loss in fuel expressed in terms of specific range with
a center of gravity of 20% and 35%, compared to the consumption for a center of gravity
position of 27% at cruise Mach. For the other aircraft, all curves have a similar shape to
these ones:
Figure 1: Specific range variation for different center of gravity positions

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15

Figure 2: Specific range variation versus CG Variation MO.82

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

16

For the A300-600, A310, A330 and A340 types, the further aft the center of gravity, the
more significant fuel savings will be. Furthermore, when flying above optimum altitudes, at
high weights, the decrease or increase in fuel consumption as a function of the reference is
significant.
Thus, loading is very important especially for high weights and for aircraft having no
automatic center of gravity management: we notice that the specific range variation can
reach 2% for high weights and FL's above 350 for the A300-600, A310, A330 and A340
types.
Contrary to the other aircraft, specific range variations with respect to the center of gravity
position are random for the whole A320 family. This is due to a complex interaction of
several aerodynamic effects. Whatever the influence of the center of gravity position on
specific range, it can however be said on the A320 family, this influence is very small.
As the specific range characterizes fuel consumption of aircraft at a given weight, it is quite
difficult to quantify the impact of the center of gravity position on an entire stage length. On
a 1000 NM stage length, the increases in fuel consumption when the center of gravity
position is 20% with regard to the fuel consumption when the center of gravity position is
35% are summed up in the following table. The results characterize the worst cases, that is
to say that an aircraft with a high weight and at a high flight level is considered.
Table 1: Fuel consumption variation between a 20% CG and a
35% CG. Distance: 1000 Nm.
Aircraft types

Fuel increment (kg)

A319/A320/A321

Negligible

A330

220

A340

380

A310

250

A300-600

230

3.1.4 Summary
For better fuel consumption the center of gravity must be placed further aft, but aircraft
stability must be the deciding factor. The aircraft must be so loaded that the center of
gravity is still within the allowable range.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

17

3.2

Excess weight

Another way to save fuel is to avoid excess weight.


3.2.1 Aircraft weight
Airlines must first of all correctly estimate real aircraft weights: an unrealistic weight may
put aircraft at increasing risk during take-off.
Airbus already reported the market tendency of increasing passenger weights, mainly
because of carry-on baggage and duty-free articles. The J.A.A. and the F.A.A. also noticed
this phenomenon and therefore reviewed regulations concerning passenger and baggage
standard weights.
The J.A.A. has produced JAR OPS (1.4). For the purpose of calculating the mass of an
aircraft, the total masses of passengers, their hand baggage entered on the loadsheet shall
be computed using:

either the actual mass values to be weighed case-by-case;

or standard mass values such as:


a) passengers including hand baggage:
All flights except

84kg / 185lb

Holiday charters

76kg / 168lb

Children (2-12 years)

35kg / 77lb

b) checked baggage
All flights except domestic
and intercontinental flights

13kg / 25lb

Domestic flights

11kg / 24lb

Intercontinental flights

15kg / 33lb

A review of these weights will have to be performed every five years, and the loadsheet
should always contain references to the weighing method adopted.
Initially, the following standard mass values for males and females including hand baggage
had been agreed upon:

Scheduled, medium/long-haul
Schedules, European short-haul
Non-scheduled

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

Males

Female

86kg / 190lb
89kg / 196lb
84kg / 185lb

69kg / 152lb
71 kg / 157lb
69kg / 152lb

18

In the USA, the F.A.A. has issued an Advisory Circular to provide methods and procedures
for developing weight and balance control. This also involves initial and periodic
re-weighing of aircraft (every 3 years) to determine average empty and actual operating
weight and CG position for a fleet group of the same model and configuration. In the past
the following standard average weights had been adopted:

Summer (1/5 thru 31/10)


Winter (1/11 thru 30/4)
Carry-on baggage allowance

Males & Females

Children

73kg / 160lb
75kg / 165lb
4.5kg / 10lb

36kg / 80lb
36kg / 80lb
4.5kg / 10lb

AC 120-27B features a 10 Ib increase for adult weights:


Summer (1/5 thru 31/10)
Winter (1/11 thru 30/4)
Carry-on baggage allowance

77kg / 170lb
80kg / 175lb
4.5kg / 10lb

3kg / 80lb
36kg / 80lb
4.5kg / 10lb

Similar to J.A.A., airlines will have to adopt standard weights unless they request different
values, which would have to be proven by a survey at the risk of ending up with higher
statistics.
Harmonization between F.A.A. and J.A.A. is desirable, as it would eventually prompt all
airlines to undergo the same penalty with minimal competitive detriment.
3.2.2 Overload effect
The specific range, flying at given altitude, temperature and speed depends on weight. The
heavier the aircraft, the higher the fuel consumption.
In addition, fuel savings can be made during climb since the aircraft would reach its optimal
flight level earlier if it were lighter.
The effect of overloading with respect to in-flight weight is shown on the following graphs
for 1000 kg excess load in cruise for four different aircraft. The characteristic curves for the
other aircraft types have a similar shape.

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19

Figure 3:

Figure 4:

Fuel burn penalty. Specific range variation


for the case of 1000 kg excess weight

Fuel burn penalty. Specific range variations


for the case of 1000 kg excess weight

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

20

Figure 5: Fuel burn penalty. Specific range variations


for the case of 1000 kg excess weight

Figure 6: Fuel burn penalty. Specific range variations


for the case of 1000 kg excess weight

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

21

The increase in fuel consumption is more important at high flight levels and heavy weights.
Indeed, specific range can be increased by 2% if aircraft weight is diminished by 1000 kg.
Excess weight has a more important impact on the A310 and A300-600 as the increase in
specific range for 1000 kg less varies from 0.15% up to 3%. The impact is also significant
on A319, A320 and A321 types as the increase in specific range varies between 0.4% to
2%. Compared to that, the A330 and A340 types seem to be the least affected by excess
weight in terms of fuel consumption. But as wide bodies fly longer segments, it represents
a bigger amount of fuel: by way of example, the following table hints at fuel savings per
1000 kg for typical stage lengths at optimum altitude.
Table 2: Fuel consumption increment for 1000 kg excess weight
Aircraft types

Mach

Stage

Fuel penalty

A319 (55 000 kg)

0.78

1000 Nm

40 kg

A320 (65 000 kg)

0.78

1000 Nm

70 kg

A321 (75 000 kg)

0.78

1000 Nm

90 kg

A330 (200 000 kg)

0.82

4000 Nm

200 kg

A340 (260 000 kg)

0.82

6000 Nm

160 kg

A310 (140 000 kg)

0.8

2000 Nm

130 kg

A300-600 (160 000 kg)

0.8

2000 Nm

260 kg

This table shows that the increase in fuel consumption is significant just for the case of a
single ton's excess weight. Ground staff must try to avoid this whenever possible.
3.2.3 Means to diminish aircraft weight
In order to diminish aircraft weight, either the zero fuel weight or the embarked fuel can be
reduced.
a) Zero fuel weight
One must be aware that zero fuel weight can increase substantially during an aircraft's life
because of an accumulation of unnecessary catering equipment, supplies etc... Any empty
cargo containers, interior and exterior dirt and rubbish must be removed in order to
minimize aircraft zero fuel weight. Airline staff have to be sensitive to these issues and
dedicated efforts are necessary to avoid excess weight.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

22

b) Embarked fuel
Embarked fuel minimization
In the same vein, unnecessary fuel weight must be resolutely avoided: flights must be
planned very precisely to calculate the correct amount of fuel to be embarked. Trip fuel is
estimated with a certain accuracy depending on theoretical aircraft performance. However,
if real aircraft performance is far below the nominal one, the pilot will take more fuel than
necessary (to ensure having enough fuel) which in itself will result in aircraft weight and
fuel consumption increases. So flight planning should be based on aircraft performance
monitoring by taking into account performance factors derived from specific range
variations.
According to the JAR OPS 1.255, contingency fuel is the higher amount of fuel between (a)
and (b).
(a) Either:

5 % of the planned trip fuel or, in the event of in-flight replanning, 5 % of the trip
fuel for the remainder of the flight; or

Contingency fuel can be less. In this case it can be no less than 3 % of the
planned trip fuel, or in the event of in-flight replanning, 3 % of the trip fuel for the
remainder of the flight provided that an en-route alternate is available. The enroute alternate should be located within a circle having a radius equal to 20 % of
the total flight plan distance, the center of which lies on the planned route at a
distance from the destination of 25 % of the total flight plan distance, or at 20 % of
the total flight plan distance plus 50 NM, whichever is greater; or

It can also be the fuel necessary to fly 15 minutes at holding speed at 1500 ft
above the destination airport in standard conditions, when an operator has
established a program, approved by the Authority, to monitor fuel consumption on
each individual route/airplane combination and uses this data for a statistical
analysis to calculate contingency fuel for that route/airplane combination; or

Finally, if the airline has kept track of the consumption for each aircraft, the
contingency fuel required is an amount of fuel sufficient for 20 minutes flying time
based upon the planned trip fuel consumption, provided that the operator has
established a fuel consumption monitoring program for individual airplanes and
uses valid data determined by means of such a fuel calculation program.

(b) An amount to fly for 5 minutes at holding speed at 1500 ft above the destination
aerodrome in standard conditions.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

23

What we can conclude is that depending on flight distance, there is a lowest contingency
fuel. The following graphs show the different contingency fuel quantities for different
distances.
Figure 7: Contingency fuel with respect to flight distance

15 min holding
5 min holding

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, contingency fuel is the amount necessary
to fly for 45 minutes at normal cruising speed. In this case, there is no way to influence the
embarked fuel.
In the same vein, in order to diminish the amount of embarked fuel, alternate airports
should be chosen as near as possible to the destination so as to minimize the diversion
fuel reserve.
According to the FAA, the diversion fuel reserve is not necessary if:

Part 97 of subchapter F prescribes a standard instrument approach procedure for the


first airport of intended landing and

For at least one hour before and one hour after the estimated time of arrival at the
airport, the weather reports or forecasts or any combination of them indicates:
(i) the ceiling will be at least 2 000 feet above the airport elevation, and
(ii) visibility will be at least 3 statute miles.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

24

According to the JAR OPS 1.295c, the diversion fuel reserve is not necessary if:
(1) Both:

The duration of the planned flight from take-off to landing does not exceed
6 hours; and

Two separate runways are available at destination and the meteorological


conditions prevailing are such that, for the period from one hour before until one
hour after the expected time of arrival at destination, the approach from the
relevant minimum sector altitude and the landing can be made in VMC (see IEM
OPS 1.295(c)(1)(ii)); or

(2) The destination is isolated and no adequate destination alternate exists.


Fuel transportation
Carrying extra fuel may be of value when a fuel price difference exists between two
airports. However, since the extra fuel on board leads to an increase in fuel consumption
the breakeven point must be carefully determined.
K is the transport coefficient:

K=

TOW
LW

The addition (or the subtraction) of one ton to landing weight, means an addition (or a
subtraction) of K tons to take-off weight.
EXAMPLE: with K=1.3, if 1300 kg fuel is added at the departure, 1000 kg of this fuel
amount will remain at destination. So carrying one ton fuel costs 300 kg more
fuel.
At the departure, if MD tons of fuel are embarked, at destination

MA =

MD
K

will remain.
The extra-cost at departure is:

MD x Pd

With Pd: fuel price at departure.


At arrival, the saving is:

MA x Pa

With Pa: fuel price at arrival.


GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

25

A cost linked to a possible increase in flight time can be added:

T x Ph
With Ph: one-hour flight price.
It is profitable to carry extra fuel if:

MD
x Pa MD x Pd T x Ph 0
K
That is to say:

Pa K x Pd +

K
x T x Ph
MD

With T=0, it is profitable to carry extra fuel if Pa K x Pd that is to say if the arrival fuel
price to departure fuel price ratio is higher than the transport coefficient K.
Thus carrying extra fuel may be of value when a fuel price differential exists between two
airports. Graphs such as FCOM 2.05.70 on A320/A330/A340 assist in determining the
optimum fuel quantity to be carried as a function of initial take-off weight (without fuel
excess), stage length, cruise flight level and fuel price ratio.
3.3

A.P.U.

3.3.1 Preliminary
The Auxiliary Power Unit (A.P.U.) is a self-contained unit, which makes the aircraft
independent of external pneumatic and electrical power, supply.
A.P.U. fuel consumption obviously represents very little in comparison with the amount of
fuel for the whole aircraft mission. Nevertheless, operators have to be aware that adopting
specific procedures on ramp operations can help save fuel and money.
3.3.2 Fuel conservation and A.P.U.
On ground, at sea level, under ISA conditions, A.P.U. fuel consumption varies depending
on A.P.U. types. It goes from 60 to 80 kg/h in no load conditions and from 110 to 160 kg/h
for air conditioning + electric load and for main engine start operations.
A.P.U. specific procedures to save fuel have to be defined by the operators: they have to
choose between using ground equipment (Ground Power Unit, Ground Climatisation Unit,
Air Start Unit) or A.P.U. It depends on several parameters: when the turn-around is quite
long, or when the aircraft does a night-stop, the use of G.P.U. is well adapted, as time
considerations are not prevailing. It enables to save both fuel and A.P.U. life.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

26

Remember that one extra minute of A.P.U. operation per flight at 180 kg/hr fuel flow,
means an additional 3000 kg per year per aircraft.
However, for short turn-around (45 minutes on average), the use of A.P.U. is
advantageous. Moreover, to limit A.P.U. start cycles and improve reliability, we advise to
keep the A.P.U. running, even if it is not fully used during the next 45 minutes. It is better to
operate with A.P.U. at Ready To Load (RTL) than to shut it down and perform a new start
cycle.
So operators are advised to use ground equipment when this is of a good quality level, and
therefore to try to conclude agreements with airport suppliers to get preferential prices.
However, in some countries, ground operations are restricted by law. The use of the APU
is limited to a defined time prior to departure time and after the arrival.
Note: It is not really correct to compare the amount of fuel burnt by A.P.U. and ground
equipment, as we also have to consider A.P.U. maintenance.
3.3.3 Optimisation procedures
The disconnection of ground equipment supplies and the start of A.P.U. must be
coordinated depending on A.T.C. A one minute anticipation in each A.P.U. start will
lead to a significant amount of fuel savings at year's end (2000 to 4000 kg depending on
A.P.U. types). The following table gives the amount of fuel saved per year and per flight
which can be attributed to nothing more than good coordination.
Engine start-up too should, if possible, be carefully planned in conjunction with A.T.C. If
push-back is delayed, it is preferable to wait and use A.P.U. for air conditioning and
electrical requirements.
The following table shows extra fuel consumption per minute for using a single engine
rather than the A.P.U.:
Table 3: Extra fuel for single engine use rather than the A.P.U.
A.P.U. types

One engine
consumption
(kg/h)

consumption (kg/h)

GTCP 36-300
A319/A320/A321

340

+210

APS 3200
A319/A320/A321

340

+225

GTCP 331-350
A330GE

550

+335

A330 PW

580

+365

A.P.U. types

One engine
consumption

consumption (kg/h)

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

27

(kg/h)
A330 RR

820

+605

300

+80

GTCP 331-350
A340

3.3.4 Summary
It is quite difficult to give advice for using A.P.U. rather than ground equipment because it
depends on several parameters. Operators have to define the most economical solutions,
depending on their own aircraft operations.
3.4

Taxiing

3.4.1 Preliminary
Jet engine performance is optimized for flight conditions. Nevertheless, all aircraft spend
significant amounts of time on ground for various operations.
As regards taxiing conditions such as:

congestion of ground traffic,

ramp to runway distance,

holding point with dozens possibly waiting for take-off,

all lead to a waste of precious time and fuel.


One (or two) engine(s) taxi can help. But such procedures need to be discussed, and
operators have to define their field of application.
Airbus provides standard procedures to operators (FCOM 3.04.90). Regardless of these,
operators have to keep in mind some specifics.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

28

Taxi is split into two distinct phases:

taxi out: from ramp to runway

taxi in: from runway to ramp

3.4.2 Engine-out taxi operation


Taxiing out with one (or two) engine(s) shut down
a) No fire protection from ground staff is available when starting engine (s) away
from the ramp.
b) Potential loss of:
braking capability (brake accumulators are nevertheless operational), nose wheel
steering (in case APU is not used),
could lead to a taxiway excursion.
c)

FCOM (3.04.90) requires not less than a defined time (from 2 to 5 minutes
depending on the aircraft) to start the other engine(s) before take off. On engines
with a high bypass ratio, warm-up and cool-down time prior to applying maximum
take off thrust, is vital for engine safety and lifetime.

d) Mechanical problems can occur during start up of the other engine(s), requiring a
gate return for maintenance and delaying departure time.
Taxiing in with one (or two) engine(s) shut down
a) FCOM requires APU start before shutting down the engine, to avoid an electrical
transient (A319/A320/A321).
b) FCOM (3.04.90) requires not less than a defined time before shutting down the
other engine(s). On engines with a high bypass ratio, the cool-down time after
reverse operation, prior to shut down is vital for the engine safety and lifetime.
During taxi in and out, one (or two) engine(s) shut down
a) Caution must be exercised when taxiing one (for twin engine) or two engine(s) shut
down (A340) to avoid excessive jet blast and FOD.
b) Slow and/or tight taxi turns in the direction of the operating engine may not be
possible at high gross weight.
c)

More thrust is necessary for breakaways and 180 degrees turn. Be aware of higher
blast effect.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

29

d) For the A340, it is recommended to taxi with the outer engines to pressurize the
green hydraulic system, so as to allow normal operation of braking and nose wheel
steering.
e) For the A319/A320/A321, it is preferable to use engine 1 for taxi to pressurize the
green hydraulic system, and without using the PTU.
3.4.3 Summary
Operators have to define their own taxiing policy depending on airport configurations
(taxiways, runways, terminals and ramps,...) and crew training with an eye on FCOM
prescriptions.
3.5

Conclusion on pre-flight procedures

On all aircraft except the A320 family, it is advised to load the airplane so that its
center of gravity is further aft, provided it is still within the allowable range.

It is advised to avoid excess weight by diminishing zero fuel weight and embarked
fuel due to accurate flight planning.

Operators have to decide whether the use of A.P.U. is appropriate depending on


turn around time, quality of ground equipment and airport specific procedures.
However, whenever possible, the use of ground equipment is recommended to
save both fuel and A.P.U. life.

Taxiing with one engine out saves fuel but has some drawbacks. Operators have
to define their own taxiing policy depending on airport configurations (taxiways,
runways, ramps).

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

30

4.

WITHIN THE FLIGHT ENVELOPE

As aircraft spend more time airborne than on ground, much fuel can be saved by
disciplined flight crews.
This part intends to give flight crew recommendations on how to save fuel during flight. It
reviews the different flight phases, that is to say:

Climb

Step climb

Cruise

Descent

Holding

Approach

4.1

Climb

4.1.1 Preliminary
Depending on speed laws, climb profiles change. The higher the speed, the lower the
climb path, the longer the climb distance.
Figure 8: Climb profiles

TOC: top of climb.


It is suggested to climb at "best rate of climb" on a constant IAS/Mach climb speed
schedule. Climb is performed in three phases at max climb thrust:

indicated air speed is maintained at 250 KT until flight level 100, then the aircraft
accelerates to the chosen indicated air speed,

constant indicated air speed is maintained,

constant Mach number is maintained.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

31

The crossover altitude is the altitude where we switch from constant IAS climb to the
constant Mach number climb. It only depends on the chosen IAS and Mach number, and
does not depend on ISA variation.
Climb can be schematized as below:
Figure 9: Climb laws

TAS: True Air Speed


IAS: Indicated Air Speed
During climb, at constant IAS, both TAS and Mach number increase. Then, during climb at
constant Mach number, both TAS and IAS decrease up to the tropopause.
4.1.2 Managed mode
The Flight Management System computes the climb speed law taking into account cost
index, wind, temperature, and take-off weight. It allows a climb schedule with a continuous
evolution of speed during climb to be determined.
To get conclusive information, climb and cruise flight must be viewed in relation to each
other. A short climb distance for example extends the cruise distance, a low climb speed
requires more acceleration to cruise speed at an unfavorable high altitude. One has
therefore to consider sectors that cover acceleration to climb speed, climb, acceleration to
cruise speed and a small portion of the cruise as depicted in figure 10.
a) A300-600, A310, A320 family, A330
The following table gives the different relevant accurate climb parameters (time, fuel, and
distance). The first column gives climb parameters relative to the climb part only, and the
second column take into account the remark in 4.1.1. These results come from
theoretical aircraft models.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

32

Table 4: Climb parameters for different cost indices (climb to FL330)

Only climb segment


Aircraft type

CI

Climb with cruise


segment

Fuel
(kg)

Time
(min)

Dist
(NM)

Fuel
(kg)

Time
(min)

CAS/Mach

RATE at
TOC
(ft/min)

A300-600

2891

17

115

2977

18

320/.777

869

(PW 4158)

30

2959

17.5

119

2993

17.8

325/.791

842

160 000 Kg

60

3004

17.8

122

3004

17.8

325/.800

810

2787

17.4

114

2922

19

302/.791

1037

30

2833

17.6

118

2929

18.7

311/.8

1024

60

2870

17.7

121

2938

18.5

320/.803

1009

100

2920

17.9

124

2952

18.3

330/.807

991

150

2942

18.1

125

2958

18.3

330/.811

968

200

2965

18.2

127

2965

18.2

330/.814

936

1757

22.4

150

1984

27.5

308/.765

584

20

1838

23.1

159

2009

26.9

321/.779

566

40

1897

23.7

165

2030

26.6

333/.783

550

60

1980

24.7

175

2056

26.3

340/.791

506

80

2044

25.6

183

2072

26.2

340/.797

461

100

2080

26.1

187

2080

26.1

340/.8

439

3568

19.1

122

3927

23

293/.761

963

50

3773

20

135

3984

22.2

309/.8

943

80

3886

20.5

141

4018

21.8

320/.812

917

100

3927

20.7

143

4031

21.8

320/.818

896

150

4005

21.3

148

4053

21.7

320/.827

837

200

4068

21.7

152

4068

21.7

320/.833

786

A310
(CF6-80)
140 000 Kg

A320
(CFM 56)
75 000 Kg

A330
(PW 4168)
200 000 Kg

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

33

Since these values depend a lot on flight conditions (first assigned flight level, take-off
weight, temperature, wind), the most representative values are delta in time, delta in fuel
between high and low cost indices which are almost constant even with external
conditions. The results are summed up in the following table:
Table 5: Delta in fuel and in time between a high and a low cost index
Aircraft types

Time gain

Fuel increment (kg)

A320

1min30s

100

A330

1min20s

140

A300-600

10s

30

A310

50s

40

Time to climb is only slightly affected by the cost index (less than one minute) for the
A300-600 and A310 between low and high cost indices.
Moreover, climbing at high cost indices is only valuable if time to climb is really essential
since time differences between low and high cost index climb are very small.
b) A340 family
A340 family aircraft have a different climb behavior than twin engine aircraft. Indeed, twin
engine aircraft have a higher thrust than four engine aircraft, as they must satisfy more
stringent climb requirements with only one engine operative. Hence, twins climb faster than
four engine aircraft and reach their allotted cruise flight level with higher vertical speed
because of extra thrust.
As the climb performance of the A340 was not fully satisfying, and as ECON climb was not
fully optimized, another ECON climb law was implemented so as to reduce time to climb
(FMGC L7).

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

34

The following table gives the relevant parameter with regard to the previous climb laws for
a climb towards flight level 330.
Climb with cruise
segment

Only climb segment


Aircraft type

A340
(CFM 56)
250 000 Kg

CI

CAS/Mach

RATE at
TOC
(ft/min)

Fuel
(kg)

Time
(min)

Dist
(NM)

Fuel
(kg)

Time
(min)

5363

25.4

168

5532

26.8

298/.793

503

50

5450

26

172

5551

26.7

298/.805

485

80

5492

26.2

174

5560

26.7

298/.810

475

100

5510

26.3

175

5563

26.7

298/.812

469

150

5547

26.5

177

5570

26.7

298/.816

457

200

5574

26.7

178

5574

26.7

298/.819

447

The following table gives the new ECON climb laws for various take-off weights and flight
levels:
CRUISE FL

TOW (1 000 kg)


280

260

240

220

270

315/.78

315/.78

315/.78

315/.78

313/.775

280

309/.78

309/.78

309/.78

309/.78

309/.78

290

302/.78

302/.78

302/.78

302/.78

302/.78

310

291/.784

289/.78

289/.78

289/.78

289/.78

290/.79

286/.78

286/.78

286/.78

293/.797

286/.78

286/.78

295/.803

286/.78

330
350
370
390

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

200

294/.8

35

The following table compares the new ECON climb laws to the previous ones for a climb
towards flight level 330 and a take-off weight of 250 000 kg:
Table 6: Comparison between the previous climb speed laws and the new ones
Cost index

FMGC L6

FMGC L7

298/.793

288/.78

50

298/.805

288/.78

80

298/.810

288/.78

100

298/.812

288/.78

150

298/.816

288/.78

200

298/.819

288/.78

ECON climb law is no longer function of the cost index. Mach number at the end of the
climb is in most cases M0.78 and the acceleration to cruise Mach number is made in level
flight.
This new climb law enables to reach cruise flight level some 6 to 20 NM earlier than with
previous climb laws, and rate of climb is also improved above 29 000 ft.
One must remember than the A340 is a four engine aircraft and thus cannot have climb
performance similar to that of a twin.
4.1.3 Selected mode
Under many circumstances, the ideal scenario computed by the FMS cannot be sustained.
A.T.C. may impose speed or altitude constraints, and crews will consequently have to
perform climb in selected mode.
The following charts give fuel consumption as well as time variations depending on
different climb laws, taking into account the acceleration and the cruise to reach the
furthest top of climb. As already explained in 4.1.2 the fuel consumption for the climb
segment was added to the fuel consumption to accelerate to the cruise Mach number and
to the fuel consumption to cruise till the furthest top of climb.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

36

Figure 10: Profile used for the computation

The following graphs show delta in fuel and delta in time for different climb laws in
comparison with the optimal one. As they may be not very clear, the following figure aims
at explaining them.
If you want to know the increase in fuel consumption when performing a climb with a
certain speed law rather than of the optimum speed law, you will have to find the point
which represents the speed law on the graph. You will then be able to read the
corresponding fuel consumption increment (in percent) on the vertical axis.
EXAMPLE: You decide to perform a climb at 250Kts/300Kts/0.78.
Here the optimal climb law is: 250Kts/280Kts/0.76 (figure 12).
To find the point which represents your climb law, you just have to find the intersection of
the "isolAS 300Kts" and of the "isoMach 0.78", as shown on the graph:
Figure 11: consumption between the optimum climb law and
different climb laws

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

37

As can be noticed, the chosen climb law consumes 1 % more than the optimal one. The
colored legend helps to directly appreciate the range of fuel increment. For example the
blue color highlights the speed laws which lead to an increase in fuel consumption for the
optimum climb law.
The same graphs were plotted for time variations:
Figure 12: time between the optimal climb law and different climb laws

This particular document contains graphs characterizing the A319 CFM, the A320 CFM and
the A330 GE.
Figure 13: time between the optimum climb law and
different climb laws

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

38

Figure 14: consumption between the optimal climb law and different climb laws

Figure 15: time between the optimum climb law and different
climb laws

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

39

Figure 16: consumption between the optimum climb law and different climb laws

Consumption curves are stretched for high climb laws, while time curves are quite regular.
This means that climbing at high speed costs more in fuel for an identical time gain. We
also notice that for slow climb laws, fuel curves are shrinking whereas time curves are
regular. So slow climb saves less fuel for equivalent time loss. In other words, time
variations are linear with respect to speed increase whereas fuel consumption variations
are not. Fuel consumption increases a lot for high climb laws and after being at its best for
an optimum climb law, increases for low speed laws.
To conclude, it is neither profitable to climb at high climb laws except for time imperatives,
nor to climb at very slow climb laws.
The following table gives delta in fuel and in time between the optimum climb law and the
most unfavorable one:
Table 7: Delta in fuel and in time between the optimum climb law and
the most unfavorable one
Aircraft types

fuel (kg)

time (min)

A319 (60,000 kg)

110

A320 (70,000 kg)

110

A321 (78,000 kg)

120

A330 (190,000 kg)

170

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

40

Aircraft types

fuel (kg)

time (min)

A340 (250,000 kg)

250

A300-600 (160,000 kg)

100

1.5

A310 (130,000 kg)

130

1.5

However, even if the adjustment of climb speed saves only 10 kg fuel per flight, the annual
savings are bound to be somehow significant:
Table 8: Annual fuel savings corresponding to 10 kg fuel savings
Aircraft types

Annual fuel
savings (kg)

A319

18 000

A320

17 000

A321

20 000

A330

12 000

A340

7 000

A300-600

13 000

A310

11 000

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

41

The following figure gives the potential money per year per aircraft for a saving of 10 kg
fuel.
Figure 17: Annual potential savings per aircraft if 10 kg fuel
is saved for each climb

Hence the optimal climb law enables significant savings.


The optimal climb law mainly depends on the aircraft take-off weight. The following table
gives the recommended climb laws with respect to the aircraft take-off weight:
Table 9: Recommended climb laws
Aircraft types

BELOW

ABOVE

TOW<60t

TOW>60t

250/260/0.78

250/280/0.78

TOW<65t

TOW>65t

250/260/0.78

250/280/0.78

TOW<70t

TOW>70t

250/260/0.78

250/280/0.78

A319

A320

A321

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42

Aircraft types

BELOW

ABOVE

TOW<190t

TOW>190t

250/280/0.8

250/300/0.8

TOW<240t

TOW>240t

250/300/0.78

250/320/0.78

TOW<140t

TOW>140t

250/300/0.8

250/320/0.8

TOW<150t

TOW>150t

250/300/0.78

250/320/0.78

A330

A340

A310

A300-600

4.1.4 Crossover altitude versus optimum altitude


In managed mode, the crossover altitude varies with the cost index; in selected mode, it
depends on the speed law set on the FCU.
Figure 18: Climb law

This graph clearly shows that the TAS is maximum at the crossover altitude. One can
wonder whether it is profitable to stay at this altitude, instead of climbing to the first
optimum altitude.
Considering standard climb laws, it is possible to know the crossover altitude and the first
optimum flight level.

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43

The standard speed laws are summed up in the following table:


Table 10: Standard climb laws
Aircraft types

Speed law

A319/A320/A321

250kts/300kts/M0.78

A330

250kts/300kts/M0.8

A340

250kts/290kts/M0.78

A310

250kts/300kts/M0.8

A300-600

250kts/300kts/M0.78

The next table exhibits the crossover altitude and the first optimum flight level for an ISA
variation below 10 degrees Celsius and for an aircraft weight near the maximum takeoff
weight.
Table 11: Crossover altitude and first optimum altitude
Aircraft types

Crossover altitude

A319
A320

1st optimum FL
(ISA<10)
370

29000 ft

A321

360
340

A330 GE
A330 PW

31000 ft

370

A340

32000 ft

330

A310

30000 ft

330

A300-600

29000 ft

300

A330 RR

To be aware that it is of no use staying at the crossover altitude to gain time as the TAS is
higher, the table shows the increase in consumption and the decrease in time when flying
at crossover altitude rather than at the optimum altitude (ISA<10) on a 1000Nm stage
length.

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44

Table 12: Delta in fuel and time when flying at crossover altitude
instead of flying at optimum altitude.
Stage length: 1000 Nm. Cruise Mach number.

Aircraft type

Gained
time (min)

Increase in fuel
consumption (kg)

A319 (60,000 kg)

950

A320 (65,000 kg)

800

A321 (75,000 kg)

650

A330 GE (190,000 kg)

1300

A330 PW (190,000 kg)

1200

A330 RR (190,000 kg)

1200

A340 (250,000 kg)

0.5

80

A310 (140,000 kg)

450

A300-600 (160,000 kg)

0.5

100

The table shows that flying at crossover altitude is not valuable particularly for A319/A320
and A330 because their first optimum flight levels are far above the crossover altitude. This
is not true for the A340: due to its particular climb speeds, the A340 crossover altitude (well
above the other) corresponds to the first optimum flight level for high take-off weights. For
this aircraft indeed, it may be beneficial to stay at the crossover altitude at the beginning of
any flight.
The following table expresses the results above (table 13) in percentages:
Table 13: Percentage of fuel increment and of time gain when flying at crossover
altitude instead of flying at optimum altitude.
Stage length: 1000 Nm. Cruise Mach number.
Aircraft type

Gained time
(%)

Increase in fuel
consumption (%)

A319 (60 000 kg)

20

A320 (65 000 kg)

15

A321 (75 000 kg)

10

A330 GE (190 000 kg)

2.5

10

A330 PW (190 000 kg)

2.5

10

A330 RR (190 000 kg)

2.5

10

A340 (250 000 kg)

0.5

0.5

A310 (140 000 kg)

1.5

A300-600 (160 000 kg)

0.5

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4.2

Step climb

4.2.1 Preliminary
When plotting specific range for different altitudes and weights, we readily see that, for
each weight there is an altitude that maximizes specific range.
Figure 19: Specific range variations for different weights and altitudes

Thus, an optimum altitude can be found for each weight:


Figure 20: Optimum altitude

As for specific range, the optimum altitude is mostly independent of temperature.


The ideal scenario would be to follow the optimum altitude as in climbing cruise. But
A.T.C. constraints do not make this possible for the moment. So aircraft should remain
as close as possible to their optimum altitude. The closest way to do so is to perform
step climbs. In general, large deviations from the optimum altitude should be avoided,
as the maximum altitude is high enough to enable a good altitude selection.
4.2.2 Trade-off between manoeuvrability and economy
Several parameters such as weather conditions, ATC requirements, may influence any
decision made by the crew with regard to three fundamental priorities: manoeuvrability,
passenger comfort, and economics.

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46

This pertains to the choice of cruise flight level, which can be made according to the three
following climb profiles:
Figure 21: Step climb profiles

The best order to improve manoeuvrability margins is: 3, 2, 1.


The best order for money savings is: 2, 3, 1.
Thus pilots are advised to perform step climbs around the optimum altitudes.
FCOM (3.05.15) facilitates this by providing the optimum weight for climb to the next flight
level.
On all Airbus FMS-equipped aircraft, both optimum altitude (OPT FL) and maximum flight
level (MAX FL) are displayed on the MCDU progress page. The recommended maximum
altitude in the FMGC ensures a 0.3g buffet margin, a minimum rate of climb of 300ft/min at
MAX CLIMB thrust and a level flight at MAX CRUISE thrust.

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47

Pilots perform step climbs, traffic and A.T.C. requirements permitting. Values of OPT FL
and MAX FL are given in the following table:
Table 14: Delta between optimum FL and MAX FL
Aircraft types

Average difference
between OP FL and
MAX FL

A319

4000 ft

A320

3000 ft

A321

3500 ft

A330 GE

3500 ft

A330 PW

3500 ft

A330 RR

3000 ft

A340

2500 ft

A310

3500 ft

A300-600

3500 ft

4.2.3 Delays in altitude follow-up


Let us consider an aircraft which cannot perform its step climb. Being at flight level 330, it
should climb at flight level 370. However, A.T.C. requires a level off at an intermediate
flight level or does not allow the climb to flight level 370. Consequently the aircraft cannot
follow its natural step climb profile.
If the aircraft is compelled by A.T.C. to stay at flight level 330, it will consume excess fuel
since its optimum flight level is 370 for its actual weight. This increment in fuel consumption
has been computed for a trip of one and two hour(s).
The results are brought together in the following table:
Table 15: Fuel increment for delayed climb to FL 370 at optimum weight
Aircraft types

FL330 + 1h
Fuel (kg)

FL330 + 2h
Fuel (kg)

A319

135

330

A320

120

315

A321

110

320

A330

185

550

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Aircraft types

FL330 + 1h
Fuel (kg)

FL330 + 2h
Fuel (kg)

A340

265

720

A300-600

140

450

A310

170

500

The fuel increment is significant and to be aware of it, the following table gives the
percentage increment for a one or two hour flight:
Table 16: Fuel increment in percent for a delayed climb
Aircraft types

FL330 + 1h
Fuel (kg)

FL330 + 2h
Fuel (kg)

A319

5.5%

7.5%

A320

5%

7%

A321

4.2%

6.3%

A330

3.3%

5%

A340

4.5%

6.5%

A300-600

3.2%

5.3%

A310

4%

6.2%

The fuel increment is about 5% of total fuel burn and it increases when time spent at a
lower level increases. Fuel can hence be saved by anticipating requests to higher flight
levels or by climbing directly to the maximum altitude.
As can be noticed, fuel increments are less important for A340, A330, A310 and A300-600.
However, flying at FL370 instead of FL330 can lead to important fuel savings whatever the
aircraft type.
To conclude, spending too much time below optimum altitude results in a used fuel/saved
time ratio not at all profitable in terms of costs but performing step climbs as explained
above always results in a profitable ratio, both in terms of time and costs.
4.3

Cruise

4.3.1 Preliminary
The management of the flight profile (climb schedule, Mach number and flight level in
cruise, descent schedule, holding, approach) has an important impact both on fuel
consumption and flight time. In the following part, some well-known parameters are
identified which, when correctly managed, can enable airplane utilization to be optimized.
GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

49

The cruise phase is the most important phase regarding fuel savings. As it is the longest
for long haul aircraft, it is possible to save a lot of fuel. So discipline is particularly important
in this phase.
4.3.2 Managed mode
The flight management system (FMS) optimizes the flight plan for winds, operating costs
and suggests the most economical cruise altitude, airspeed, depending on the cost index
chosen by the airline. An airline which wants to save fuel has to choose a low cost index.
As said before, this brochure does not aim at helping airlines in their cost index choices.
Nevertheless, the next section still intends to highlight the impact of the cost index on fuel
consumption and on trip time.
a) Economy Mach number
Depending on the cost index, predicted aircraft and atmospheric conditions, the Optimum
Altitude and the Economy Mach number are computed. From then on, fuel consumption
depends only of the chosen cost index.
The following charts show the Economy Mach number variations for different cost indices
and for different flight levels. For more clarity, only five graphs have been inserted. But you
can find the graphs which characterize other aircraft in the first appendix.
Figure 22: Economic cruise Mach number for various
flight levels and cost indices

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Figure 23: Economic cruise Mach number for various


flight levels and cost indices

Figure 24: Economic cruise Mach number for various


flight levels and cost indices

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Figure 25: Economic cruise Mach number for various


flight levels and cost indices

The higher the flight level, the higher the economic Mach number. The charts clearly show
that the economic Mach number changes a lot during flight for low cost indices, whereas it
is rather constant for high cost indices. So, if airlines favor time at the expense of fuel
consumption, flights are performed at constant Mach number. The Economy Mach is very
sensitive to the cost index when flying below optimum altitude.
However, as aircraft weight decreases, the Economy Mach also decreases particularly for
low cost indices:
Figure 26: Economic cruise Mach number for various weights and cost indices

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Figure 27: Economic cruise Mach number for various weights and cost indices

Figure 28: Economic cruise Mach number for various weights and cost indices

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Figure 29: Economic cruise Mach number for various weights and cost indices

Figure 30: Economic cruise Mach number for various weights and cost indices

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The charts show that for high cost indices, the Economy Mach number stays fairly constant
throughout the flight. Nevertheless, for low cost indices, the economic Mach number varies
a lot. This is quite normal as low cost indices favor fuel consumption at the expense of
time. Moreover, we notice that for low cost indices, a small cost index increment has a
far-reaching influence on the economic Mach number, and hence on flight time especially
for the A340.
b) Time/fuel relation
To know whether it is profitable to fly at low cost indices, the impact of cost indices on time
has to be considered. The following graphs show trip fuel and time for different flight levels
and cost indices. The computation was done for all aircraft types and restituted the same
basic shape. The aircraft considered here are the A310, the A319 and the A330; the
computation was performed for a 2000 Nm stage length:
Figure 31: Time/fuel relation for a typical stage length.
Stage length: 3000 Nm, M 0.8

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Figure 32: Time/fuel relation for a typical stage length.


Stage length: 2000 Nm, M 0.8

Figure 33: Time/fuel relation for a typical stage length.


Stage length: 4000 Nm, M 0.8

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As can be seen, it is not really advantageous to fly at very low cost indices as fuel savings
are not significant compared to time loss. The time gain is invariably almost the same for
different but high cost indices. For instance, for the A330, flying at flight level 310 with a
cost index equal to 0 lasts 15 minutes more than flying at flight level 310 with a cost index
equal to 20, for an increase in fuel consumption of a mere 100 kg. In percentage, 15
minutes represents 3.5% of the total flight time, and 100 kg represents 0.25% of the total
fuel consumption.
In the same way, for the A330 at FL 350, only 50 kg fuel is saved for 10 minutes of
additional flight time between CI=0 and CI=20.
4.3.3 From Managed to Selected Mode
Flying at a given cost index rather than at a given Mach number provides the added
advantage of always benefiting from the optimum Mach number as a function of aircraft
gross weight, flight level and head/tailwind components.
This means the ECON mode ("managed" mode) can save fuel relative to fixed Mach
schedules ("selected" mode) and for an identical block time.
One can wonder whether selecting a higher Mach number than the one chosen by the
FMS has a significant impact on fuel consumption. Imagine an aircraft flying at flight level
370, in managed mode and at the optimum weight of FL370. The FMS computes the
optimum speed based on cost index, temperature, wind... If the pilot selects another Mach
number (a bigger one), fuel consumption changes as shown with the following charts (for a
2000 Nm stage length):
Figure 34: Fuel consumption increment on a 2000 Nm stage length,
when the pilot switches in selected mode
and increases Mach number

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57

Figure 35: Fuel consumption increment on a 2000 Nm stage length,


when the pilot switches in selected mode and increases
Mach number

Figure 36: Fuel consumption increment on a 2000 Nm stage length,


when the pilot switches in selected mode and
increases Mach number

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The following table gives fuel increment and time gain for a 2000Nm stage for the case of a
0.005 Mach number increase at the beginning of the 2000Nm stage.
Table 17: Delta in fuel and time in the case of a 0.005 Mach increase
Aircraft types

Fuel increment

Saved time

A319

+150 kg

-1 min

A320

+200 kg

-2 min

A321

+200 kg

-2 min

A330

+250 kg

-3 min

A340

+280 kg

-3 min

A300-600

+350 kg

-2 min

A310

+300 kg

-2 min

We notice that fuel consumption increases a lot when increasing cruise Mach number by
0.005. This can reach up to 2%. Further away from the economic Mach number, fuel
consumption can even increase beyond 5% for a Mach increment of 10 points.
This can reach 300 kg extra fuel for the A310/A300-600, 100 to 200 kg for the
A319/A320/A321 on a 2000 Nm stage, the A330/A340 being in between.
Pilots hence have to be patient and should not change the Mach number even when under
the impression that the aircraft does not fly fast enough.
Moreover, the managed mode must be kept whenever possible.
4.3.4 Selected mode
a) Preliminary
A.T.C may at times constrain aircraft, for it is to maintain safety in the first place. In these
cases, flight crews may have to activate the selected mode and choose flight parameters
accordingly. This section shows the impact of altitude, Mach number and wind on fuel
consumption, to give recommendations to remain as close as possible to the optimum.
The following graphs show fuel consumption as a function of time for different Mach
numbers at different flight levels and for typical stage lengths (2000 Nm for the A319 type,
3000 Nm for the A330 and A310).

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Figure 37: Fuel consumption and time for different flight levels and Mach
numbers on a 3000 Nm trip. TOW=130t.

Figure 38: Fuel consumption and time for different flight levels and Mach
numbers on a 2000 Nm trip. TOW=60t.

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Figure 39: Fuel consumption and time for different flight levels and Mach
numbers on a 3000 Nm trip. TOW=210t.

As is well-known, the faster aircraft are flown, the more fuel they consume and the less
time is taken for the flight. The higher the aircraft are flown, the less they consume. We
notice that the slopes of these curves are similar. So, whatever the Mach number, fuel to
time ratios are identical for each aircraft when climbing from one flight level to the next one.
As aircraft are limited by maximum altitudes, the next sections are intended to recommend
more accurate altitudes and climb Mach numbers as a function of flight situations.
b) Flight at a given Mach number
b.1. Optimum altitude
If A.T.C. imposes a Mach number, flight crews can only optimize the altitude. When not
flying at optimum altitude, one must first be aware of fuel consumption increases. The
following charts provide fuel and time increments when flying below the optimum altitude
on a 1000 Nm stage length.
The following charts provide fuel and time increments when flying below optimum altitude.
For the whole of the A320 family, an entire trip was simulated at a given flight level.
Compared to that, for the other aircraft, graphs were plotted from values of specific range
at a given weight and flight level in cruise. Otherwise, one would have had to consider a
step climb with hence some complicated graphs due to an abundance of possibilities. This
explains why no specific stage length is mentioned in the titles of the graphs.

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Figure 40: Fuel consumption increment when flying above optimum altitude.
Stage length: 1000 Nm. M 0.78

Figure 41: Fuel consumption increment when flying above optimum altitude.
Stage length: 1000 Nm. M 0.78

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Figure 42: Fuel consumption increment when flying below


optimum altitude. M 0.8

GE

Figure 43: Fuel consumption increment when flying below optimum altitude. M 0.8

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Figure 44: Fuel consumption increment when flying below


optimum altitude. M 0.8

CFM

We appreciate that identical altitude differences do not always correspond to the same
range loss. For instance, for the A320 IAE, the 2% range loss due to flying at flight level
330 rather than at 350 when the weight is 70t may seem acceptable and could lead to the
choice of a lower altitude. However, after a 10 ton fuel burn the range loss reaches 6%.
Evidently, for low weights, the increase in fuel consumption is particularly significant: it can
reach up to 20% over a 1000 Nm stage. Nevertheless, flying at 2000 ft above or below the
optimum altitude only increases fuel consumption by 2%.
Flight crews should follow a profile as shown below:
Figure 45: Optimum flight profile

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64

In order to help flight crews, the following charts provide the optimum altitude with respect
to aircraft weights and Mach numbers. Pilots can therefore know if they are at the right
altitudes with regard to fuel savings. Hereby following are graphs characterizing the
A300-600 GE, the A310 PW, the A319, the A330 GE and the A340 CFM. The graphs for
the A300-600 PW, for the A310 GE, for the A330 PW, for the A330 RR, for the A320 and
the A321 are presented in Appendix 2.
Figure 46: Optimum altitude with respect to aircraft weight

Figure 47: Optimum altitude with respect to aircraft weight

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Figure 48: Optimum altitude with respect to aircraft weight

Figure 49: Optimum altitude with respect to aircraft weight

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Figure 50: Optimum altitude with respect to aircraft weight

Figure 51: Optimum altitude with respect to aircraft weight

CFM

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We can see that the influence of airspeed on optimum altitude is negligibly small in the
range of normal cruise speeds. Since the range optimum altitude closely matches the
minimum cost altitude, every effort should be made to reach this altitude both in flight
planning and during flight.
b.2. Optimum altitude on short stage
Optimization should be made for each stage length as it sometimes not worth climbing
when the cruise is too short to compensate for increased fuel consumption linked to climb
to optimum altitude.
For instance, for the A321 with a take-off weight of 83 000 kg, the optimum flight level
would be 330. However, climbing at this altitude needs 2006 kg of fuel. Climbing at flight
level 310 needs 1829 kg of fuel.
If the stage length is 275 Nm, it is not valuable to cruise at flight level 330. The latter being
the optimum flight level:

total fuel consumption = 2691 kg at FL330.

total fuel consumption = 2687 kg at FL310.

It is sometimes not at all valuable to climb to the optimum altitude. It is all the more
applicable as we are near the aircraft's maximum take-off weight.
To help crews, optimum altitudes on short stage are given for each aircraft: Hereby
following are the graphs characterizing the A300-600 GE, the A310 PW, the A319, the
A330 GE and the A340 CFM. The graphs for the A300-600 PW, for the A310 CFM, for the
A330 PW, for the A330 RR, for the A320 and the A321 are presented in Appendix 3.

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Figure 52: Optimum altitude on short stage


Climb: 250KT/300KT/M0.8
Long range cruise
Descent: M0.8/300KT/250KT

Figure 53: Optimum altitude on short stage


Climb: 250KT/300KT/M.78
Long range cruise
Descent: M.78/300KT/250KT

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Figure 54: Optimum altitude on short stage


Climb: 250KT/300KT/M0.8
Long range cruise
Descent: M0.8/300KT/250KT

Figure 55: Optimum altitude on short stage


Climb: 250KT/300KT/M.78
Long range cruise
Descent: M.8/300KT/250KT

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c) Flight at a given Flight Level


A.T.C. sometimes orders flight crews to stay at a given flight level. The only parameter
which can be changed is Mach number. If plotting specific range variations with respect to
Mach number at a given altitude, we can determine the Mach number which gives the best
specific range. It is called the maximum range cruise Mach (MRC Mach). For practical
purposes (speed stability since MRC hinges around an optimum), a long range cruise
procedure was defined that gains a significant speed increase compared to MRC at the
cost of a mere 1 % loss in specific range. Like MRC speed, LRC speed also decreases
with decreasing weight, at constant altitude.

Figure 56: : LRC versus MRC at given altitude

The following graphs show LRC speed as a function of weight, and flight level. Hereby
following are graphs characterizing the A300-600 GE, the A310 PW, the A319, the
A330 GE and the A340 CFM. The graphs for the A300-600 PW, for the A310 CFM, for the
A330 PW, for the A330 RR, for the A320 and the A321 can be found in Appendix 4.

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Figure 57: Long Range Cruise Mach number

Figure 58: Long Range Cruise Mach number

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Figure 59: Long Range Cruise Mach number

Figure 60: Long Range Cruise Mach number

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Figure 61: Long Range Cruise Mach number

It is clear from all these charts that LRC speeds remain fairly constant if weight and altitude
correspond to optimum altitude conditions. It would therefore be possible to fly a constant
Mach number procedure instead of the variable LRC speed procedure. In order to save
fuel however, the exact LRC speed schedule should be maintained.
d) Wind influence
Wind can have a significant influence on flight parameters. Nowadays, meteorological
forecasts are very reliable and its integration into the FMS provides accurate information to
flight crews. Hence, the latter system can best perform flight planning with a view towards
fuel savings.
To be aware of wind influence on both trip time and trip fuel, the following graphs provide
fuel consumption and time with respect to flight levels, Mach number and wind. Headwind
velocity is preceded by a minus sign whereas tailwind velocity by a plus sign.

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Figure 62: Fuel consumption and trip time for various Mach numbers and
flight levels in windy conditions. TOW=130t.

Figure 63: Fuel consumption and trip time for various Mach numbers and
flight levels in windy conditions. TOW=80t.

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Figure 64: Fuel consumption and trip time for various Mach numbers and
flight levels in windy conditions. TOW=250t.

As one can imagine and verify, tailwind is very profitable whereas headwind is not. For
instance, for the A310 GE, for a 2000 Nm stage at flight level 330 and at Mach 0.8, fuel
consumption with no wind is 28 800 kg, whereas it is 32 700 kg for a headwind equal to
60 KT and 25 700 kg for a tailwind of the same magnitude. This corresponds to an
additional consumption of some 3900 kg in the case of a headwind (that is to say 13% of
the total fuel consumption) and to a reduced consumption of some 3100 kg (that is to say
10% of the total fuel consumption) in the case of a tailwind.
The following table gives the increment or decrement in fuel consumption for an entire
flight at a given Mach number, at flight level 310 and at a take-off weight close to the
maximum take-off weight.
Table 18: Fuel consumption variation with head/tailwind
Stage
Fuel increment if Fuel decrement if
length (Nm) headwind (-60 kts) tailwind (+60 kts)

Aircraft types

Mach

A319/A320

0.76 < M < 0.8

2000

+ 1500

- 1100

A321

0.76 < M < 0.8

2000

+ 1800

- 1400

A330

0.8 < M < 0.84

3000

+ 5300

- 4000

A340

0.8 < M < 0.84

3000

+ 6000

- 5000

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Stage
Fuel increment if Fuel decrement if
length (Nm) headwind (-60 kts) tailwind (+60 kts)

Aircraft types

Mach

A300-600

0.78 < M < 0.82

2000

+ 3500

- 2700

A310

0.78 < M < 0.82

2000

+ 3200

- 2500

In headwind conditions, specific range decreases and the maximum range speed
increases. In tailwind conditions, the maximum range speed decreases and specific range
increases.
In the area to the right of the maximum specific range line (figure 62), range losses due to
headwinds can be completely or partially offset for by an airspeed reduction. The higher
the original airspeed, the more applicable this is. Beyond a certain headwind component, a
reduction in air speed will not improve the specific range over ground. At slow initial speed
(e.g. LRC) and very strong headwinds, a speed increase might even prove to be
advantageous.
Figure 65 herebelow, shows that for given initial conditions, a headwind component of VW
KT can be compensated for by reducing speed from Mach 0.84 to LRC.
Figure 65: Wind Influence on specific range

The influence of wind is in this case applied to range, which in numerous cases is the sole
indicator of how economic a flight really is.
Without wind, specific range is maximum at optimum altitude. In windy conditions, it may
however be beneficial to fly at a different cruise altitude. There may be a tailwind at a lower
altitude, which could make up for the increase in fuel consumption when flying lower.

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Figure 66: Wind altitude trade for constant specific range

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78

EXAMPLE:
If we consider an aircraft to be at a weight of 190 000 kg, and if there is a wind of a 10 KT
intensity at flight level 370, we can assess whether it is valuable to descend to FL 330.
Indeed, the minimum wind difference must be equal to:
31-2=29 KT
This result is found by intersecting the vertical line from the abscissa AT 190000 kg of the
weight axis, with ordinate flight level lines. The corresponding winds are derived to make
the difference.
Descending to flight level 330 can be contemplated provided the tailwind at this altitude is
more than 29-(wind at FL370)=29-10=19 KT.
Flight crews will find these charts in the flight operating crew manuals (FCOM), more
specifically in the "in flight performance part" (3.05.15).
4.4

Descent

4.4.1 Preliminary
Depending on the descent law, flight paths do vary in steepness.
Indeed, the higher the speed law, the steeper the flight path.
Figure 67: Descent profiles

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

79

4.4.2 Managed mode


The FMS computes the Top Of Descent (TOD) as a function of the cost index. We notice
that the higher the cost index:

the steeper the descent path (the higher the speed)

the shorter the descent distance

the later the top of descent point.

Descent performance is a function of the cost index; the higher the cost index, the higher
the descent speed. But contrary to climb, aircraft gross weight and top of descent flight
level appear to have a negligible effect on the descent speed computation.
The following table shows different relevant accurate descent parameters computed by
in-flight performance software for the entire Airbus Family.
Descent from FL 370-ISA conditions:
Table 19 : Relevant parameters for a descent from FL 370 at different cost indices
(standard conditions)
Only descent segment
Aircraft types

Descent with cruise


segment

Cl

Mach/CAS
Fuel
(kg)

Time
(min)

Dist
(NM)

Fuel
(kg)

Time
(min)

A300-600
(PW 4158)
120000 Kg

0
30
60
100

317
298
282
276

19.3
17.3
15.8
15

108
102
96
93

317
357
403
427

19.3
18.1
17.4
17

.790/258
.793/285
.800/310
.800/325

A310
(CF6-80)
110000 Kg

0
30
60
100

284
263
239
218

21.4
19.3
17
15.3

116
111
103
95

284
301
353
406

21.4
19.9
18.7
18

.756/246
.801/269
.806/300
.810/332

A320
(CFM 56)
60000 Kg

0
20
40
60
800

138
125
112
137
142

19
17
14.9
14.6
14.6

105
99
90
92
92

138
157
187
207
210

19
17.8
16.8
16.4
16.3

.764/252
.779/278
.786/311
.796/339
.800/342

A330
(PW 4168)
170000 Kg

0
50
80
>100

449
444
427
420

23.5
22.7
20.5
19.6

135
134
125
121

449
463
540
580

23.5
22.9
21.9
21.4

.774/270
.809/281
.819/307
.823/320

A340
(CFM 56)
180000 Kg

<50
80
100
>150

550
524
509
501

23.2
21
19.7
19.7

133
125
120
117

550
620
620
663

23.2
22
21.4
21.2

.767/273
.799/301
.811/323
.817/323

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

80

Whereas values for time, distance, Mach number, fuel consumption do vary with flight
conditions such as TOD, flight level, temperature and wind, the former are less variable
with respect to gross weight. Delta values with regard to time and distance are largely the
same whatever the initial flight conditions. The following table provides parameters and
differences in terms of time and fuel from a similar geographical point (TOD corresponding
to cost index 0) to summarize descent laws between CI=0 and high cost indices.
Table 20: Delta time and fuel between a descent at a high and a low cost index
(decent from FL 370, standard conditions)
Difference between low and high cost index
Aircraft types
Time gain

Fuel increment (kg)

A320

2 min 40 s

70

A330

2 min 10 s

130

A340

2 min

110

A310

3 min 20 s

120

A300-600

2 min 20 s

110

It can be noticed that time to descent between low and high cost indices is more sensitive
than climb phase.
4.4.3 Selected mode
Fuel consumption with respect to speed
The following curves present the fuel burn during descent, from the same geographical
point in cruise. For high speeds, fuel consumption needed to fly from TOD of a shallow
descent to TOD of the steepest descent at cruise level have been added. Moreover, a
speed limitation of 250 KT below 10,000 ft was used in the calculations to comply with
A.T.C constraints.
In the following graphs, fuel consumption is shown for the A300-600 GE, the A310 PW, the
A319, the A330 GE and the A340 CFM. The graphs for the A300-600 PW, A310 GE,
A330 PW, A330 RR, A320 and the A321 are presented in Appendix 6.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

81

Figure 68: Descent consumption from the same point in cruise

Figure 69: Descent consumption from the same point in cruise

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

82

Figure 70: Descent consumption from the same point in cruise

Figure 71: Descent consumption from the same point in cruise

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

83

Figure 72: Descent consumption from the same point in cruise

Whatever flight conditions, the optimum descent speed is about 280 KT. Nonetheless,
charts clearly depict the influence of speed on fuel consumption. For example, 20 kg of fuel
can be saved by performing the descent phase at 280 KT instead of 300 KT. The following
table gives the annual savings expressed in US dollars per aircraft when performing a
descent at 280 KT instead of 300 KT:
Table 21: Annual potential fuel savings for a 20 KT decrease in descent speed

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

Aircraft

Annual fuel
savings per
aircraft (kg)

A319

36 000

A320

34 000

A321

40 000

A330

24 000

A340

14 000

A310

22 000

A300-600

26 000

84

These annual fuel savings enable important money savings as shown on the next figure.
Figure 73: Annual potential money savings for a 20 KT decrease in descent
speed.

In terms of money savings, this represents from $3000 to $8000 per aircraft and per year,
depending on aircraft types. We notice that this speed reduction has a bigger impact on
aircraft from the A320 family than on any other aircraft.
The following tables present time and fuel variations with respect to a reference
(IAS = 300 KT).
Table 22: Comparison of descent A319/A320/A321
fuel (kg)
time (min)
FL 390

FL 370

FL 350

FL 330

FL 310

260 KT

- 40
+3

- 40
+3

+ 40
+3

- 35
+3

- 25
+3

280 KT

- 20
+ 1.5

- 20
+ 1.5

- 20
+ 1.5

- 20
+ 1.5

- 15
+ 1.5

300 KT

REF

REF

REF

REF

REF

320 KT

+ 15
1

+ 15
-1

+ 15
-1

+ 15
-1

+ 20
-1

340 KT

+ 25
1

+ 25
-2

+ 30
-2

+ 30
-2

+ 35
-2

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

85

Table 23: Comparison of descent A330 GE/PW/RR


FL 390

FL 370

FL 350

FL 330

FL 310

260 KT

- 80
+ 2.5

- 80
+ 2.5

- 80
+ 2.5

- 60
+2

- 35
+2

280 KT

- 55
+ 1.5

- 55
+ 1.5

- 55
+ 1.5

- 50
+ 1.5

- 25
+1

300 KT

REF

REF

REF

REF

REF

320 KT

+ 25
1

+ 25
1

+ 25
1

+ 30
1

+ 30
1

340 KT

+ 50
1.5

+ 50
1.5

+ 50
1.5

+ 55
1.5

+ 55
1.5

Table 24: Comparison of descent A340 CFM


FL 390

FL 370

FL 350

FL 330

FL 310

260 KT

- 60
+ 1.5

- 60
+ 1.5

- 60
+ 1.5

- 50
+ 1.5

- 25
+1

280 KT

- 30
+1

- 30
+1

- 30
+1

- 30
+1

- 20
+ 0.5

300 KT

REF

REF

REF

REF

REF

320 KT

+ 30
1

+ 25
1

+ 25
1

+ 30
1

+ 30
1

340 KT

+ 55
1.5

+ 55
1.5

+ 55
1.5

+ 60
1.5

+ 60
1.5

Table 25: Comparison of descent A300-600


FL 390

FL 370

FL 350

FL 330

FL 310

260 KT

- 70
+3

- 65
+3

- 65
+3

- 60
+ 2.5

- 50
+2

280 KT

- 30
+1

- 35
+1

- 35
+1

- 40
+1

- 30
+1

300 KT

REF

REF

REF

REF

REF

320 KT

+ 25
0

+ 30
1

+ 30
1

+ 30
1

+ 35
1

340 KT

+ 40
0.5

+ 40
1

+ 40
1.5

+ 45
1.5

+ 45
1.5

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

86

Table 26: Comparison of descent A310


FL 390

FL 370

FL 350

FL 330

FL 310

260 KT

- 60
+3

- 60
+3

- 60
+3

- 45
+ 2.5

- 30
+2

280 KT

- 30
+ 1.5

- 30
+ 1.5

- 30
+ 1.5

- 35
+ 1.5

- 25
+1

300 KT

REF

REF

REF

REF

REF

320 KT

+ 25
-1

+ 30
1

+ 30
1

+ 30
1

+ 30
1

340 KT

+ 50
2

+ 50
2

+ 55
2

+ 60
2

+ 55
2

Whatever the aircraft, the decrease in fuel is higher when diminishing the speed by 20 or
40 KT than the increase in fuel when increasing the speed by 20 or 40 KT. In accordance
with the preceding, it is advised to perform the descent phase around 280 KT.
Premature descent
If the aircraft begins its descent too early, the aircraft would leave its optimal flight level,
where fuel consumption is at its best.
For examples' purposes, let us consider that an aircraft begins its descent 10 minutes too
early:
Figure 74: Profile of a too early descent

Two options were simulated:

a top of descent 10 minutes early followed by a level-off at FL100,

a cruise segment followed by a descent which starts at the optimum top of


descent.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

87

The two options were subsequently compared. It appears that the increment of fuel per
minute does not depend of the total anticipation time. The following table gives therefore
the average fuel increment for an aircraft beginning its descent one minute too early in
comparison with the second option.
Table 27: Fuel increment for a one minute early descent from
flight level 350. Cruise Mach number
Aircraft

Fuel consumption
variation (kg)

A319 CFM (55 000 kg)

20

A319 IAE (55 000 kg)

25

A320 CFM (60 000 kg)

20

A320 IAE (60 000 kg)

25

A321 (65 000 kg)

25

A330 GE (170 000 kg)

30

A330 PW (170 000 kg)

30

A330 RR (170 000 kg)

30

A340 CFM (180 000 kg)

30

A310 (110 000 kg)

30

A300-600 GE (140 000 kg)

20

A300-600 PW (140 000 kg)

20

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

88

4.5

Holding

4.5.1 Preliminary
AIRBUS provides airlines with four different holding configurations (FCOM 3.05.25),
adapted to each type of aircraft.
Table 28: Recommended holding configurations
Aircraft types

Configuration 1

Clean configuration

A319/A320/A321/
A330/A310

170 kts

S speed

210 kts

Green dot
speed

A340/A300-600

210 kts

S speed

240 kts

Green dot
speed

Green dot speed is the one or two engine out operating speed in clean configuration. It
corresponds to an approximation of the best lift to drag ratio speed and thus leads to a low
hourly consumption:
Figure 75: Green dot speed definition

The speed which gives the lowest fuel consumption has been replaced by the green dot
speed which helps to obtain a significant increase in speed at the expense of a very limited
fuel consumption increase.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

89

4.5.2 Various configuration / speed combinations


Following graphs compare the hourly consumption for several holding configurations and
speeds. It appears that the best combination is the clean configuration at green dot speed.
Figure 76: Fuel flow with respect to holding altitude for several configurations

Figure 77: Fuel flow with respect to holding altitude for several configurations

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

90

Figure 78: Fuel flow with respect to holding altitude for several configurations

Figure 79: Fuel flow with respect to holding altitude for several configurations

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

91

Curves reveal that green dot speed leads to the lowest hourly consumption, except for the
A330: when arriving in the holding at high gross weight (around 190.000 kg), 210 KT is
slightly more economical than green dot speed. In fact, for this weight, 210 KT is the speed
which gives the lowest fuel consumption (figure 74).
If we compare the fuel flow at flight level 100 in configuration 1 at S speed and the fuel flow
at the same altitude but in clean configuration at green dot speed, some differences are
noticed and are summed up in the following table:
Table 29: Percentage of fuel flow increment when holding at S speed in conf 1
instead of holding at green dot speed in clean conf. Flight level 100
Aircraft types

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

A319 CFM

3%

A319 IAE

4%

A320 CFM

6%

A320 IAE

8%

A321 CFM

7%

A321 IAE

8%

A330 GE

13%

A330 PW

11%

A330 RR

8%

A340 CFM

11%

A310 GE

12%

A310 PW

11%

A300-600 GE

11%

A300-600 PW

18%

92

For a 15-minute holding, the corresponding fuel saved is:


Table 30: Fuel increment when holding at S speed in conf 1
instead of holding at green dot speed in clean conf
for a period of 15 minutes. Flight level 100
Aircraft types

Fuel saved per


holding

Annual
savings
(kg)

Annual
savings
($)

A319 CFM

15 kg

27 000

5 600

A319 IAE

20 kg

36 000

7 500

A320 CFM

25 kg

43 000

9 000

A320 IAE

35 kg

60 000

12 500

A321 CFM

40 kg

80 000

16 500

A321 IAE

45 kg

90 000

18 500

A330 GE

150 kg

180 000

37 000

A330 PW

120 kg

144 000

30 000

A330 RR

90 kg

108 000

22 500

A340 CFM

140 kg

98 000

20 500

A310 GE

110 kg

121 000

25 000

A310 PW

90 kg

99 000

20 500

A300-600 GE

90 kg

117 000

24 000

A300-600 PW

150 kg

195 000

40 500

The table shows that the "green dot speed/clean configuration" combination enables
significant savings.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

93

However, green dot speed increases with weight and can become higher than the
maximum recommended speeds which are reminded below:
Table 31: Maximum recommended speeds
Levels

ICAO

Up to 6,000 ft inclusive

PAN-OPS

FAA

210 KT

200 KT

230 KT

230 KT

230 KT
Above 6,000 ft to 14,000 ft inclusive
Above 14,000 ft to 20,000 ft inclusive

220 KT

240 KT
240 KT

Above 20,000 ft to 24,000 ft inclusive


265 KT
Above 24,000 ft to 34,000 ft inclusive
Above 34,000 ft

France

240 KT

265 KT
265 KT

M 0.83

M 0.83

If green dot is higher than these maximum recommended speeds, it is advised to hold in
configuration 1 at S-speed: keeping clean configuration coupled with a speed reduction
would save fuel but would decrease the safety margin and could become hazardous in
turbulent conditions.
As during cruise phase, there is an optimal holding altitude. However holding altitudes are
often imposed by ATC.
4.5.3 Linear holding
If holding is going to be necessary, linear holding at cruise flight level and at green dot
speed should be performed whenever possible since total flight time will remain constant
(cruise time is increased but holding time is reduced) and fuel flow is lower at high flight
levels.
If, 15 minutes before reaching a fix, ATC informs that 10 minutes holding is expected, two
options are possible:

Either the aircraft is flown 15 minutes at cruise speed and 10 minutes at green dot
speed.

Or the aircraft performs the cruise to reach the fix and speed remaining time at
green dot speed.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

94

This can be schematized as below:


Figure 80: Description of the holding options

Table 32: Fuel saved by reduction from M 0.78 to green dot speed at FL 350
Aircraft types

CFM/IAE

A319 (55,000 kg)

100 kg

A320 (60,000 kg)

70 kg

A321 (60,000 kg)

100 kg

Table 33: Fuel saved by reduction from M 0.82 to green dot speed at FL 390
Aircraft types

GE

PW

RR

A330 (180,000 kg)

90 kg

80 kg

100 kg

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

95

Table 34: Fuel saved by reduction from M 0.82 to green dot speed at FL 390
Aircraft types

CFM

A340 (190,000 kg)

50 kg

Table 35: Fuel saved by reduction from M 0.8 to green dot speed at FL 350
Aircraft types

GE

PW

A310

120 kg

120 kg

A300-600

65 kg

80 kg

This speed reduction would save a great amount of fuel per year, if only we consider that a
10' holding is necessary for 10% of the annual flights:
Table 36: Money and fuel saved thanks to the second option
Aircraft type

Fuel saved per


year (kg)

Fuel saved per


year
(gallon))

Annual
savings ($)

A319

18 000

4 750

4 750

A320

12 000

3 200

3 200

A321

20 000

5 300

5 300

A330 GE

11 000

2 900

2 900

A330 PW

9 600

2 500

2 500

A330 RR

12 000

3 200

3 200

A340

3 500

900

900

A310

13 200

3 500

3 500

A300-600 GE

8 500

2 200

2 200

A300-600 PW

10 400

2 800

2 800

Note: This speed reduction cannot always be performed, because of ATC restrictions.
These computations do evidently show that the second option is the best one.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

96

4.6

Approach

4.6.1 Decelerated and stabilised approach


The standard recommended approach is the stabilized approach as decribed below:
Figure 81: The stabilized approach

Conditions permitting, decelerated approaches are nonetheless possible. They allow a


smooth approach and potential fuel savings compared to the stabilized approach. The
aircraft should intercept the final descent path at S speed in configuration 1. At 1000 ft
above runway elevation, aircraft should be stabilized on the final descent path in the
landing configuration with thrust above idle.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

97

The following figure describes a decelerated approach:


Figure 82: The decelerated approach

The following table gives the increase in fuel consumption when a stabilized approach is
performed, in comparison to a decelerated approach.
Table 37: Fuel increment between a stabilized approach and
a decelerated approach

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

Aircraft

Fuel increment
(kg)

A319/A320

+ 20

A321

+ 25

A330

+ 40

A340

+ 45

A300-600

+ 45

98

These marginal fuel savings can nevertheless produce significant annual fuel savings. The
following table provides the annual fuel savings per aircraft and per type.
Table 38: Potential annual savings due to the decelerated approach
Aircraft

Annuals fuel
savings per
aircraft (kg)

Annuals fuel
savings per
aircraft (gallon)

Annual savings
per aircraft ($)

A319

36,000

7,400

7,400

A320

34,000

7,000

7,000

A321

50,000

10,300

10,300

A330

48,000

9,900

9,900

A340

31,500

6,500

6,500

A300-600

58,500

12,000

12,000

Figure 83: Money saved by the decelerated approach in comparison


with the stabilized one

It is obvious that the stabilized approach needs more fuel as flaps and landing gears are
extended earlier and thus increase drag. Nevertheless, stabilized approaches are safer as
indicated by CFIT and ALAR statistics. Moreover, decelerated approaches can only be
performed in category I weather conditions.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

99

4.6.2 Premature landing gear extension


To be aware of the increase in fuel consumption when the landing gear is extended too
early, the following procedure was simulated:
Figure 84: Premature landing gear extension

This was then compared with a decelerated approach.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

100

The results are summed in the following table:


Table 39: Fuel increment in case of premature extension
Aircraft

Fuel increment
(kg)

A319

+ 15

A320

+ 20

A321

+ 25

A330

+ 35

A340

+ 35

A300-600

+ 50

We notice that extending the landing gear too early increases fuel consumption by 15 to
50 kg depending on aircraft type.
Annual fuel savings are summed up in the following table:
Table 40: Potential annual savings
Aircraft

Annual fuel
savings per
aircraft (kg)

Annual fuel
savings per
aircraft (gallon)

Annual savings
per aircraft ($)

A319

27 000

5 600

5 600

A320

34 000

7 000

7 000

A321

50 000

10 300

10 300

A330

42 000

8 700

8 700

A340

24 500

5 100

5 100

A300-600

65 000

13 400

13 400

Pilots are therefore asked to respect this in order to avoid an increase in drag.
Generally speaking, we advise flight crews to avoid premature extensions and to respect
recommended procedures in order to establish a safe situation.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

101

4.7

Conclusion within the flight envelope

4.7.1 With regard to the climb phase:

Flight crews should try to select a climb law as close as possible to the optimum
climb law. One must not be forget that this depends on the aircraft take-off weight.

It must be remembered that it is of no use flying at crossover altitude: it increases


fuel consumption significantly for a very small time gain in time.

4.7.2 With regard to the step climb phase:

Pilots should perform a step climb at around optimum altitude.

Pilots should avoid delaying climb to the next step.

4.7.3 With regard to the cruise phase:

In managed mode, it is not advantageous to fly at very low cost indices.

Whenever possible, it is preferable to fly in managed mode in comparison to the


selected mode.

Pilots should not increase the Mach number chosen by the Flight Management
System.

At a given Mach number, the aircraft should be flown around the optimum altitude.
Care must be taken if stage length is short.

At a given flight level, the recommended Mach number is the Long Range Cruise
Mach number.

One should remember that it is sometimes valuable to fly at a lower altitude than
at the optimum one if the wind trade at lower altitude is found to be beneficial
(consult FCOM 3.05.15).

4.7.4 With regard to the descent phase:

Diminishing descent speed can allow significant fuel savings.

Premature descent should be avoided.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

102

4.7.5 With regard to holding:

The best combination is clean configuration at green dot speed.

However, if green dot speed is higher than the maximum recommended speeds or
if there are A.T.C. constraints, it is advised to hold in configuration 1 at S speed.

If holding is to be anticipated, linear holding should be performed whenever


possible.

4.7.6 With regard to the approach phase:

Premature extensions (landing gear, slats, flaps) should be avoided.

A decelerated approach saves fuel in comparison to a stabilized one, conditions


and safety permitting.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

103

5.

GENERAL CONCLUSION

Varying fuel price situations have prompted Airbus to innovate in the field of fuel
conservation: whether in the field of design engineering or in flight operations support, we
have always maintained a competitive edge on this specific issue. Whether fuel is in short
or ample supply we have always considered that fuel conservation is a subject worth
revisiting. Fuel conservation permeates in the various areas of flight planning, flight
operations, performance retention and performance recovery. Airbus is both willing and
able to support airlines with operational support in all those disciplines no matter how
efficient modern jet aircraft have become.

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

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THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

105

APPENDIX 1
ECONOMY MACH NUMBER ACCORDING TO COST INDEX AND FLIGHT LEVELS
In this appendix, one finds the same type of graphs as exemplified for other aircraft
in 4.3.2.

GE

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

106

APPENDIX 1
ECONOMY MACH NUMBER ACCORDING TO COST INDEX AND FLIGHT LEVELS

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

107

APPENDIX 1
ECONOMY MACH NUMBER ACCORDING TO COST INDEX AND FLIGHT LEVELS

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

108

APPENDIX 1
ECONOMY MACH NUMBER ACCORDING TO COST INDEX AND FLIGHT LEVELS

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

109

APPENDIX 1
ECONOMY MACH NUMBER ACCORDING TO COST INDEX AND FLIGHT LEVELS

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

110

APPENDIX 1
ECONOMY MACH NUMBER ACCORDING TO COST INDEX AND FLIGHT LEVELS

GE

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

111

APPENDIX 1
ECONOMY MACH NUMBER ACCORDING TO COST INDEX AND FLIGHT LEVELS

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

112

APPENDIX 1
ECONOMY MACH NUMBER ACCORDING TO COST INDEX AND FLIGHT LEVELS

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

113

APPENDIX 1
ECONOMY MACH NUMBER ACCORDING TO COST INDEX AND FLIGHT LEVELS

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

114

APPENDIX 1
ECONOMY MACH NUMBER ACCORDING TO COST INDEX AND FLIGHT LEVELS

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

115

APPENDIX 2
OPTIMUM ALTITUDES

GE

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

116

APPENDIX 2
OPTIMUM ALTITUDES

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

117

APPENDIX 2
OPTIMUM ALTITUDES

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

118

APPENDIX 2
OPTIMUM ALTITUDES

0.86

0.85

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

119

APPENDIX 3
OPTIMUM ALTITUDES ON SHORT STAGES

GE

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

120

APPENDIX 3
OPTIMUM ALTITUDES ON SHORT STAGES

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

121

APPENDIX 3
OPTIMUM ALTITUDES ON SHORT STAGES

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

122

APPENDIX 4
LONG RANGE CRUISE MACH NUMBER

GE

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

123

APPENDIX 4
LONG RANGE CRUISE MACH NUMBER

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

124

APPENDIX 4
LONG RANGE CRUISE MACH NUMBER

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

125

APPENDIX 4
LONG RANGE CRUISE MACH NUMBER

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

126

APPENDIX 5
WIND ALTITUDE TRADE FOR CONSTANT SPECIFIC RANGE

Not available for A300-600/A310 models.


For all the aircraft refer to FCOM 3.05.15 as a lot of variance exists between various
models of all types involved (A320 family, A330,A340)

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

127

APPENDIX 6
DESCENT

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

128

APPENDIX 6
DESCENT

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

129

APPENDIX 6
DESCENT

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

130

APPENDIX 6
DESCENT

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

131

APPENDIX 7
HOLDING

GE

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

132

APPENDIX 7
HOLDING

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

133

APPENDIX 7
HOLDING

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH FUEL ECONOMY

134

Airbus 1998
All rights reserved.

The statements made herein do not constitute an offer. They are based on the
assumptions shown and are expressed in good faith. Where the supporting grounds for
these statements are not shown the Company will be pleased to explain the basis
thereof.
Customer Services Marketing
31707 Blagnac Cedex France
Telephone +33 (0) 5 61 93 33 33
Ref.: AI/SR 163
Printed in France