EASA Fuel Policy: why should airlines implement a fuel monitoring system?
As of the 30th of October 2022, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has changed the regulation about fuel reserves. This new set of rules aims to harmonize EU regulation with more advanced and modern ICAO standards for more environmentally efficient fuel planning and management.
What is contingency fuel?
The contingency fuel (also known as en route reserve) is a fuel reserve planned to account for fuel consumption deviation due to unforeseen reasons during the flight, such as wind changes, weather avoidance, or constraints from Air Traffic Control.
Reducing the quantity of fuel reserve allows for reducing the fuel burn as the fuel burn depends on the aircraft’s total weight. However, this must be done in a safely manner; therefore, the quantities of fuel reserves are regulated, and the possible reduction adds constraints to ensure safety.
New fuel regulation in Europe in favor of sustainable aviation
The EASA scheme aligns with a broader shift from regulators worldwide. International bodies of civil aviation pressure airlines to reduce their carbon emissions and enforce rules towards sustainability.
According to EASA, this regulation could save up to 3 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, representing approximately 1% of European flight emissions.
“There is no reason to lift up more fuel reserve into the sky than necessary; lifting fuel burns more fuel,” said EASA flight standards director Jesper Rasmussen.
“Most importantly, this can be done without compromising safety. The reduction is possible thanks to better assessment methods and better data, which allow airlines to carry out a more precise risk assessment.”
At this time, not all airlines have the same degree of maturity in their management system or the same operating capabilities. That is why the EASA regulatory package encompasses three fuel schemes, ranging from basic to more advanced options. Let’s take a closer look at each scheme and requirement.
The 3 Schemes of fuel planning
Basic Fuel Scheme
It is the classic scheme of 5% or 5 minutes for contingency fuel, 30 minutes at 1500ft final reserve, and at least one alternate planned.
It is pretty similar to current rules, so operators need little work to implement this scheme.
Basic Scheme with Variations
The possible variations from the basic scheme include the classical reserve reductions:
- Statistical taxi fuel planning
- The contingency fuel variations:
- the former 3% reduced contingency fuel reserves, never less than 5 minutes of holding at destination at 1500 ft.
- statistical contingency fuel, never less than 5 minutes of holding at destination at 1500 ft.
- 20 minutes of trip fuel, never less than 5 minutes of holding at destination at 1500 ft.
Redispach or decision point fuel planning.
To use variations of the contingency fuel, an airline must maintain a fuel consumption monitoring system. This is a change for operators implementing variations for contingency fuel (except statistical contingency fuel).
Individual Fuel Scheme
This scheme is the most restrictive as it requires additional compliance and monitoring efforts. It is intended for big airlines, who want an individual scheme tailored to their operations.
To apply for an individual scheme, an airline must fulfill the following criteria:
- have statistical fuel data on individual aircraft tails for more than two years.
- make safety assessments of the individual scheme
- select and follow safety performance indicators (SPI) agreed upon with your national authorities
- have an airborne fuel prediction system
- track how much and how often contingency fuel is burn
The complete list of requirements is available here (p14-15 GM2 CAT.OP.MPA.180 c).
By setting up three different schemes, the EASA ensures that each operator opts for the appropriate fuel scheme depending on its current capabilities. In some instances, it also requires establishing and maintaining a fuel consumption monitoring system, proof that digital technology is becoming a powerful lever in flight planning and fuel optimization.
How to prepare your contingency fuel reduction plan?
Airlines can take the following steps to prepare their contingency fuel reduction plan:
Step 1: Assess how much savings you could achieve with each scheme and variation. To do so, it is better to have already some data-driven simulation based on your network using a tool allowing you to build custom indicators based on your actual data.
Step 2: Gather the data and indicators required for the chosen scheme, validate the data, and ensure the data’s quality will be good enough for usage.
Step 3: In parallel with the second point, start discussing SPIs with your national authorities to make sure you are compliant and prepare all the paperwork.
Step 4: Once the data is ready and you have validation from the authorities, you can start saving and monitoring fuel to ensure you keep safe operations.
Towards a data-driven approach to optimizing fuel efficiency
With this new policy, European airlines are held accountable for monitoring thoroughly and accurately their fuel consumption to meet regulatory requirements.
In the future, airlines should expect to rely increasingly on data analysis to reduce contingency fuel, optimize fuel consumption and maintain high safety levels. And while some airlines are already well engaged on the path of data-driven fuel efficiency, others need to level up their fuel planning & management capabilities by adopting a proper monitoring system. But where to begin?
Operators should prioritize using a fuel consumption monitoring system today for a chance to scale their fuel program tomorrow. As you can see, it might be a long process, so you should start gathering data as soon as possible. Using a monitoring system such as SkyBreathe® could help your airline to:
- Gather the two years of statistical fuel data for each aircraft,
- Monitor the safety performance indicators and report to your national authorities
Currently, SkyBreathe® helps over 50 airlines, such as Korean Air, Air France, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, easyJet, IndiGo, and DHL, optimize fuel efficiency across their operations. So if you are still in the dark regarding implementing a contingency fuel reduction plan in your airline, don’t hesitate to contact our fuel experts.
Want to go further and learn more about adopting a data-driven approach to fuel planning & management?
Read the article >> How to reduce pilot extra fuel without compromising safety?