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July 28, 2015
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Fuel Management and Conservation at the UPS Airlines


Automobile drivers may be feeling the pinch at the gas pump, but try fueling the world's ninth largest airline. As UPS operates 282 aircraft, the company looks to the sky to continue its sustainability efforts and increase the efficiency of its operations.

UPS continually evaluates technologies and procedures that will improve our environmental performance around the world. Fuel management and conservation is one of the many ways we provide optimal service and value to our customers while minimizing our impact on the environment.

New Fuel Management Procedures

UPS Airlines has designated an airline fuel manager to implement a fuel conservation program. That program is significantly reducing fuel consumption and emissions and is saving the company millions on its fuel bill each year. These innovative and aggressive initiatives demonstrate that environmental concerns are a core part of UPS's daily activities and engineering processes.

The role of UPS's fuel manager is to re-examine how the airline operates, looking for additional ways to reduce consumption and manage fuel purchases. As a result, UPS has implemented several procedures, including:

  • using only one engine during taxiing;
  • having more UPS airplanes use electrical power from buildings and in-ground electrical hook-ups instead of the aircraft's auxiliary power unit, which is powered by fuel; and
  • slowing down flights to the most fuel efficient speeds where arrival times are not critical to making service commitments.

Additionally, UPS flight planners are considering fuel prices around the world when determining where to fuel the company's aircraft. Planners use a formula to calculate the costs and determine whether the price is right. This fuel program has proven its worth to the airline, yielding multimillion-dollar savings each year.

Innovative Technology Lands Fuel Savings for UPS Airlines

UPS is testing and has implemented several programs that are proving to be successful in conserving fuel and reducing emissions.

  • ADS-B: In coordination with the FAA, UPS is testing Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) technology on all of UPS's 757 and 767 aircraft. Among other things, this technology allows:
    • 10 to 15 percent increase in landings per hour
    • fuel savings of 1 million gallons a year
    • 30 percent reduction in noise; and, a
    • 34 percent lower nitrous oxide emissions.
    UPS is the world's only fleet equipped with this advanced technology.
  • Lido: UPS Airlines is the first U.S.-based carrier to use the Lufthansa Systems Lido Operations Center, a flight planning system which calculates the most efficient route between two points, based on weather, winds, terrain and other factors.
  • CDA: UPS also is testing the effectiveness of continuous descent approach (CDA) rather than stepping down altitudes when landing. Pilot programs are underway at airports in Louisville, Ky. and Sacramento, Calif. With CDA, planes use idle power to glide down, which makes less noise, burns less fuel and creates fewer emissions. UPS expects to have operational approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to implement CDA for several flights to Louisville by the end of the year.

Worldport and the UPS Air Park

UPS Worldport¿, UPS's all-points international air hub in Louisville, includes various features designed to reduce the operation's environmental impact. For example, Worldport's aircraft docks allow planes to park directly next to the facility, eliminating the need to run ground tugs, dollies and other equipment required to load and unload aircraft parked on ramps. This reduces fuel use and emissions.

The Worldport facility has backup electrical feeds from two substations fed by Louisville Gas & Electric in lieu of generators that burn fossil fuel.

The UPS Worldport facility received a federal grant to build a biodiesel infrastructure at the airport. This infrastructure will provide a 5 percent biodiesel blend of fuel to run 366 ground support vehicles starting in early 2008. Biodiesel is a clean-burning diesel replacement fuel that can be used in compression-ignition engines. It is manufactured using U.S.-produced oils such as soybean oil, recycled cooking oils or animal fats.

UPS's two Jet-A fuel tanks in Louisville have an internal floating roof, which reduces VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions.

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