Etihad Saving Fuel On 787s With New Flight Optimization Tool

Etihad Airways
Credit: Boeing

Etihad Airways has implemented a tool for pilots that is generating 1.4% fuel savings.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier says it is saving 1.4% fuel burn on its Boeing 787 fleet through a digital tool that analyzes aircraft-specific performance metrics to optimize flights. 

Etihad says it trialed Boeing’s Jeppesen FliteDeck Advisor (FDA) on more than 2,000 flights over six months. These test flights created millions of data points, which the airline and Boeing compared to data from flights without the tool to see if there was a fuel savings. 

Boeing created tail-specific performance curves for each of the airline’s 39 787s based on flight data recorder data and airplane-specific information, including maintenance, for each aircraft. 

“Hundreds of thousands of raw data points from many flights are processed through Boeing’s patented algorithms along with proprietary data to detect biases in aircraft performance compared to the ‘book’ values,” a Boeing spokesperson says. This analysis enables FliteDeck Advisor to “quickly find the real ‘sweet spot’ and generate a speed advisory, which the pilots can use to fine-tune their speed to save fuel,” Boeing says.

In addition to the fuel savings, “the average speed flown for FliteDeck Advisor flights was higher than non-FDA flights, so this fuel savings comes with the added bonus of shorter flight times,” an Etihad spokeswoman says.

Neither the airline or Boeing provided a correlated fuel savings.

Implementation involves pilots downloading and registering the FliteDeck Advisor application and instruction on their iPads. “Given our experience within the trial, both of these steps were seamless during full fleet implementation,” Etihad says. “From contract signature to go-live across the entire 787 fleet was three weeks.”

While Etihad is not planning to expand the tool to the rest of its Boeing fleet, “given the success of the trial, further opportunities for expansion will be explored, as appropriate.”

Etihad and Boeing have been collaborating on sustainability projects since 2019, including Etihad’s participation in Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator, on which the FliteDeck Advisor was originally tested.

Etihad is the largest 787 operator in the Middle East. The airline’s 787 sustainability program, dubbed Greenliner, has tested various ways to make operations more efficient, in addition to FliteDeck Advisory. It is now exploring the impact of contrails on sustainability and plans to start sustainability trials on its new Airbus A350s when that aircraft enters service later in 2022.

Lee Ann Shay

As executive editor of MRO and business aviation, Lee Ann Shay directs Aviation Week's coverage of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), including Inside MRO, and business aviation, including BCA.