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Singapore Airlines & CAAS partner on “Green Package” flights; biofuels, optimized operations and fuel-efficient A350-950

Singapore Airlines (SIA), in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), has started operating a series of 12 “green package” flights over a three-month period on its non-stop San Francisco-Singapore route. The green package flights are the first to combine the use of biofuels, fuel-efficient aircraft—SIA’s Airbus A350-900—and optimized flight operations. CAAS is facilitating the use of optimized flight operations and Air Traffic Management (ATM) best practices which reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions for the flights.

The first of the 12 flights, SQ31, departed San Francisco at 1121hrs (San Francisco Time) on 1 May 2017 and arrived in Singapore at 1910 hrs (Singapore Time) on 2 May with 206 passengers on board. Over the three-month period, flight SQ31 will be powered by a combination of HEFA (Hydro-processed Esters and Fatty Acids), a sustainable biofuel produced from used cooking oils, and conventional jet fuel. The biofuel, produced by AltAir Fuels, will be supplied and delivered to San Francisco by SkyNRG in collaboration with North American Fuel Corporation (NAFCO), a wholly owned subsidiary of China Aviation Oil (Singapore), and EPIC Fuels.

In collaboration with CAAS and air navigation service providers along the flight route, these flights will also employ optimized flight operations, which will reduce fuel burn and carbon emissions. These optimized flight operations include User-Preferred Routes (UPRs), Dynamic Airborne Reroute Procedure (DARP), 30/30 Reduced Oceanic Separation and Time-Based Arrivals Management.

User-Preferred Routes (UPRs) refer to flight routes during the oceanic phase of flight customized based on factors such as weather and aircraft performance. Dynamic Airborne Reroute Procedure (DARP) is a procedure that allows for periodic modification of a flight’s lateral profile, based on updated weather forecasts, to save fuel. 30/30 Reduced Oceanic Separation refers to measures allowing for reduced separation distance between aircraft during the oceanic phase of flight. Time-Based Arrivals Management refers to traffic flow management procedures and automated decision support automation which reduce holding time in the air for arriving flights.

The green package initiative supports efforts under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint (SSB) 2015 to develop Singapore as a Leading Green Economy, where businesses adopt more efficient and sustainable processes and measures to reduce their resource and environmental impact, and contribute towards a Sustainable Singapore. The flights will also raise awareness of sustainable biofuels for aviation and provide the industry with valuable insight on the economics, logistical requirements and performance of biofuels.

Other than the ongoing green-package flights, SIA and CAAS have worked together in recent years on several other carbon emissions-reducing initiatives in international aviation. In January 2010, both organizations participated in the Asia and Pacific Initiative to Reduce Emissions (ASPIRE) program with a demonstration flight from Los Angeles to Singapore via Tokyo which yielded fuel savings of 6%.

The ASPIRE program is a partnership between air navigation service providers which share the aim to reduce carbon emissions from fuel burn in all phases of flight, through best practices and initiatives in air traffic management and flight operation procedures. Examples include measures that permit pilots to take full advantage of atmospheric conditions, such as prevailing winds, to reduce separation between aircraft and shorten flight time.

In May 2011, CAAS and SIA launched regular ASPIRE flights on the Los Angeles-Singapore route. Over the years, routes to various destinations in the Southwest Pacific, including Auckland, Christchurch, Melbourne and Sydney, were incrementally added to the ASPIRE programme, the latest addition being SIA’s ‘Capital Express’ service between Singapore, Canberra and Wellington in September 2016. The series of 12 ‘green package’ flights will also adopt ATM best practices from the ASPIRE program.

Singapore Airlines is also a member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (SAFUG), which was established in 2008 to accelerate the development and commercialisation of sustainable biofuels for aviation, derived from environmentally and socially-sustainable sources.

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