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10 Surprising Facts About Weight Saving in the Aviation Industry.

Have you ever wondered how aeroplanes improve their fuel efficiency? Every industry is defined by something, and the one defining thing about the aviation industry must be its obsession with all things weight related. However, it is not without reason, the following facts may surprise you...

  • Weight and fuel efficiency are closely tied together. Every increase in weight results in higher fuel costs, which in turn affects the carbon footprint. Carbon footprint is extremely topical, and reducing this is a priority for many airlines. The aviation industry is responsible for around 2.5% of all carbon dioxide pollution. Every day more than 5 million barrels of oil are burnt, which create carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, soot and water vapor. All of which cause strain on the earth’s climate.
  • The cost of carrying 1kg extra in weight can cost up to $300 in fuel over 5000 flying hours. This is the reason why some airlines use lightweight paper for their in-flight magazine to reduce weight as much as possible. If using a thinner paper results in 1kg of weight saved, look at the fuel saving in that! By using tablet computers instead of heavy log books, one airline has reported savings of over $300,000 per year!
  • All airlines are constantly looking at ways to reduce weight. Common weight saving measures include: descaling water feed pipes, emptying waste water tanks more often, and not carrying life rafts on overland flights.
  • The relationship between weight and fuel consumption is critical. A recent Qantas flight on route from Los Angeles to Sydney had to be diverted to Brisbane as they had insufficient fuel to circle in Sydney, this was down to gross passenger weight being underestimated.
  • A staggering 250KG of paint is used to paint a Boeing 747! This demonstrates the importance of aerodynamic and thinner paints. Any additional paintwork required on the aircraft only increases the weight. During the entire life of an aircraft it is recommended that they should never have more than two coats of paint. Any more than this and it will affect the operating efficiency. Multiple layers of paint can also lead to corrosion which should be avoided at all costs.
  • One major airline has recently saved over 300kg per aircraft with new light-weight seating and innovative seat design. The new seat weighs under 10kg resulting in the airline being able to save over 600kg per aircraft! The ultra-slim profile of the seat also provides passengers with a more comfortable flight! A win-win situation for the airline.
  • There are many different calculations that are carried out to determine the total life cost or saving of a part. For example, the cost of lightweight materials may be significantly higher than what is currently being used for a specific application. However, when offset against the weight saving achieved over the total life of the aircraft, it may be a small price to pay. Any weight saving has a direct impact on the fuel efficiency of the aircraft and when this is calculated across the entire service life, it has a significant impact. Not only financially, but also in terms of carbon footprint, which many companies are starting to measure.
  • When an aircraft goes in for a full service, a deep clean can remove up to 100kg of dust from areas that are not normally cleaned. Think of the fuel savings in that! On the flip side, that’s one extra passenger!
  • In 2001 Forgeway were involved with a major aircraft interiors manufacturer and we completed trials on a galley shipset for a wide bodied aircraft. They were under pressure to reduce weight as the finished article was too heavy. After a long morning doing mock ups and trials, our product Aerok 9101 provided a saving of just over 0.5Kg per module. The sales rep involved was amused at the excitement this produced amongst the engineers!
  • It has now become the norm to look at the weight of adhesives and fillers. Aerok 8250 is a fully Fire Retardant rated insert potting adhesive that is very light weight for its class. Some additives can seriously increase the weight of adhesives, but thanks to our unique chemistry and product understanding, our products are substantially lighter than others in the industry. 

Everyone can take something away from the aviation industry’s obsession with weight saving! There’s probably something you’ve been carrying around in your car that you don’t really need in there? Maybe a box of tools, for that “just-in-case” occasion? There’s probably plenty of ways you can improve your fuel consumption when you start to look at things from a different angle!

Topics: Industries