EASA publishes new fuel/energy rules with positive environmental impact

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has published a Decision which proposes that air operators be allowed to reduce the amount of fuel carried during operations, thereby reducing the CO2 emissions of the overall flight and environmental impact of the flight.

Aircraft are required to carry enough fuel to ensure the safety of operations in case their flight plan needs to change for reasons that could include the delays on approach to the destination airport or even the impossibility to land due to weather considerations or other issues. Carriage of this extra fuel, as it adds weight to the aircraft, increases the fuel consumption and total emissions from the flight.

The amount of additional fuel required can be optimised, while continuing to ensure high safety levels, due to improved risk assessment, calculations based on better data and better decision making. The regulatory package, which consists of Regulation (EU) 2021/1296 and ED Decision 2022/005/R providing the AMC and GM, is aligned with guidance from ICAO. The principles will also apply for aircraft powered fully or partially by alternative energy sources, such as electric aircraft.

“This regulatory package is part of the overall efforts of EASA to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment,” says Jesper Rasmussen, EASA Flight Standards Director.УThere is no reason to lift up more fuel reserve into the sky than necessary – lifting fuel burns more fuel. Most importantly, this can be done without compromising safety Ц the reduction is possible thanks to better assessment methods and better data which allow airlines to carry out a more precise risk assessment.Ф

The EASA Decision 2022/005/R will enter into force on October 30, 2022.

The new rules bring in three different fuel schemes: basic fuel scheme, fuel scheme with variations and individual fuel scheme. The transition from the current rules to the basic fuel scheme requires little additional effort from the perspective of an air operator.

The other two schemes are voluntary and will take more resources to implement as those require enhanced monitoring capabilities from the airlines.National authorities will also have to adjust their oversight to ensure that safety levels are not compromised.

The precise reductions that would be permissible for individual operations vary according to routing and aircraft used.

From an environmental perspective this regulatory package will have the following benefits:

  • According to the scenarios analysed in the NPA2016-06 (A), the maximum fuel reduction would be in the order of magnitude of 1 million tonnes per year for the EU MSs’ operators on the basis of the flights in 2015.
  • This would translate in a potential estimated annual saving of 3 million tonnes of CO2 (based on the assumption of 1 tonne of fuel producing 3 tonnes of CO2).
  • According NPA2016-06 (A), this would mean a potential saving estimate of 0.29 kg per minute in a short-haul flight, and of 2.31 kg per minute on a long-haul flight.
  • This potential saving would represent approximately 1% of European flight emissions.
  • Note: that the savings will benefit the long-haul flights to a greater extent. These are the flights that produce most of the CO2 emissions. According to Eurocontrol data, long-haul flights represent 6.2% of the flights but create 51.9% of the CO2 emissions.