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Flights go green, to use less fuel, cut emissions

According to reports, Mumbai air space is all set to handle green flights or user preferred routes (UPR) flights. The city’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) will be equipped to allow part of its air space for green flights which reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions. UPR is a unique preferred route which is marked on the basis of wind conditions, aircraft type and the weather.

It is not a pre-defined point-to-point path like other routes but helps achieving the best speed and reduces fuel consumption. Airports in the North Atlantic and Pacific region are already able to use part of their air space for UPR flights. In Asia-Pacific region, Mumbai, Chennai, Colombo and Melbourne air space will be used from October.

The Airports Authority of India has worked with other airports to use satellite data information to handle the UPR flights, said officials. The flights would cruise at an altitude of 28,000-46,000 ft like other aircraft. But unlike others, they will have an independent flight plan instead of a fixed one (which most flights adhere to). Trials for the use of routes in Mumbai’s air space were on since June last year and concluded in February. Airlines like Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways participated. “Now, it is open to any airline which wants to use this route. Most users would be foreign carriers as Indian carriers are not yet equipped with the technology to use UPR,” said A B Joshi, nodal officer of the project in Mumbai.

The routes would be used by aircraft which are fitted with a planning system. It can chart a flight path while the aircraft is still on ground, on the basis of weather conditions. “Routes and levels are same. But conducive winds help the aircraft cruise faster. This cuts time and burns less fuel,” said an official. “These conditions aren’t usually taken into account normally for pre-designated flight routes,” he added.

Officials said UPR routes are laid for long-haul flights that include traversing oceans.

As per estimates from trial more than 1,000 trial flights, around 219 tonnes of fuel was saved. The approximate carbon emission saving was 6,885 tonnes. “This is why these routes are called green routes. The ATC role becomes more complex as they are also handling these flights along with the routine ones as standard separations have to be maintained. The trials have ensured that all loopholes have been smoothened,” said an airport official.

How the UPR works:

The UPR is derived from a specialized system fitted in an aircraft.

On ground, weather details are fed into the system. On the basis of the information, the aircraft devices a flights path taking into consideration wind conditions and the traffic around.

When the aircraft moves along the wind, its speed increases, thereby reducing the time taken and the fuel consumed.


UPR will help reduce fuel consumption per flight.

It will reduce the time taken, depending upon the winds.

As per estimates during trials:

1013 flight were operated using UPR.

Approx fuel saving 218 tonnes

Approx carbon emissions saving: 6,885 tonnes.

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