UPS Airlines Environmental Initiatives


UPS Airlines Environmental Initiatives


UPS Airlines strives to reduce its impact on the environment by operating the most fuel-efficient fleet in the package airline sector and aggressively managing aircraft and air hub operations. As the operator of one of the world's largest airlines, UPS also leads the industry in deploying noise and emission reduction technologies.

UPS WorldportSM 

UPS's all-points international air hub in Louisville features:

  • Docks that allow planes to park next to the facility; aircraft docks eliminate the need for ground tugs, dollies and other motorized equipment required to load and unload planes parked farther away.
  • Electric dockers – electricity rather than fuel-powered auxiliary power units or ground power units are used to power parked aircraft at Worldport. We are also loading and unloading those aircraft with electrically powered equipment rather than traditional gas-powered machinery.
  • Backup electrical feeds from two substations fed by Louisville Gas & Electric, in lieu of generators that burn fossil fuel.
  • Polycarbonate air containers to transport packages; unlike the fiberglass containers that UPS used previously, the polycarbonate material does not require painting, which affects air quality.
  • Two Jet-A fuel tanks with an internal floating roof that reduces VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions.
  • Biodiesel initiative – UPS received a $515,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Kentucky to purchase a fueling vehicle, fuel storage tank and computer system to begin using a 5 percent blend of biodiesel fuel in 366 vehicles on Worldport property. Biofuels are included in the company's long-term strategic plan for airline CO2 reduction and UPS supports efforts to promote environmentally responsible development of aviation biofuels.
  • Re-powering tugs – UPS is working with the Environmental Protection Agency on a project to put more fuel-efficient engines in 92 diesel tugs at Worldport. Conservatively estimated, the project will have the net effect of taking dozens of diesel trucks off the road.

Aircraft Fleet

UPS's strategy for purchasing aircraft focuses on managing operational costs and ensuring landing rights around the world by flying a quiet, fuel efficient and low emission fleet. UPS is the only company in the package sector to bring 100 percent of its air fleet into full compliance with noise and emission reduction regulations established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

B-767 – In the mid-1990s, UPS was the launch customer for a new, low-emission version of the General Electric CF6-80C2 engine used to power its new Boeing 767 freighters.

A300-600 – In 2000, UPS added the first Airbus aircraft to its fleet – the A300-600 freighter, lauded for its low emissions and fuel efficient features. The aircraft includes a tail-trim fuel tank that optimizes the center of gravity during flight, minimizing fuel burn. The A300's engine's talon combuster gives the Pratt & Whitney PW4158 the lowest emission level of all engines in its thrust class.

747-400 – UPS added the 747-400 to its fleet in 2007. The freighter has the lowest operating cost per ton-mile of all freighters and its fuel consumption per ton of payload is 14 percent less that of the company's retired 747-200 aircraft.

Aircraft Winglets

UPS began installing winglets on its 767 fleet in 2013. The modifications save about 7 million gallons of fuel each year which UPS expects to reduce emissions by more than 65,000 tonnes. That equates to more than $21 million in annual savings.

Winglets are vertical projections that extend the length of the wing, thereby reducing drag and increasing fuel efficiency. They improve the aerodynamics of the wing by extending the length of the wing and significantly reducing high pressure spillover from the lower surface to the upper surface. This reduces the drag inducing vortex that forms on conventional tipped wings.

Winglets are already installed on UPS's 747 and MD-11 fleets, and the A300-600 has a similar device called a wingtip fence. All 59 of the 767s will be modified by the end of 2014.

Air Operations

Fleet maintenance environmental best practices include:

Environmentally Friendly Paint – UPS has recently begun using a new aircraft paint process, involving a pretreatment called PreKote. This new product replaces many of the potentially hazardous chemicals involved in preparing an aircraft for painting. It also eliminates the typical need for a third coat of paint, saving about 300 pounds of weight, which helps minimize fuel burn.

Contraflow Approaches – As part of ongoing efforts to reduce noise, UPS uses “contraflow” approaches and departures in Louisville. For the nighttime sort, UPS aircraft land from the south on arrival and take off to the south on departure, flying over the city's lesser populated area.

Continuous Descent Arrivals – In 2003, UPS began testing the effectiveness of continuous descent arrivals (CDAs) when landing in lieu of stepping down altitudes. With CDAs, planes use idle power to glide down, which makes less noise, burns less fuel and creates fewer emissions.

UPS continues to experiment with CDAs in several locations, including Louisville, Sacramento, East Midlands, Cologne, Germany and Warsaw, Poland. Test data suggests CDAs help reduce landing noise by 30 percent, nitrous oxide emissions by 34 percent, and save 40-70 gallons of fuel per approach.

Fuel Conservation – UPS has the most fuel-efficient fleet in the package airline sector. This is based on the following fuel efficiency metric: CO2 pounds per available ton mile (CO2lbs/ATM). In 2013, UPS Airlines reduced the planned arrival fuel by an average of five minutes across nearly 140,000 flights, resulting in a reduction of more than 1.497 million gallons of fuel burned, saving roughly 14,000 metric tons of CO2. In 2008, our efficiency factor was 1.42 CO2lbs/ATM – far superior to our nearest competitor's current state and long-term future targets. Despite our leadership position, we have set an aggressive CO2 reduction target of 1.24 CO2lbs/ATM by 2020. This represents a 42 percent improvement between 1990 and 2020 and a 20 percent reduction from 2005-2020.

UPS's emissions reduction strategy calls for reducing fuel consumption and deploying alternative fuel and low emissions vehicles. In terms of aircraft, UPS concentrates on conservation efforts. Our goal is to reduce aviation fuel burned per 100 ATM (gals/100ATM) to 6.27 gallons by 2020. This goal is aligned with our goal to reduce aircraft emissions. This represents a 38 percent improvement from 1990. In 2008, we cut aviation fuel use to 6.73 gals/100ATM, a 33 percent improvement compared to 1990.

In March 2003, UPS Airlines implemented a fuel conservation program that saved more than 1 million gallons of fuel in its first year. Savings are generated through the Lido OC flight planning system, which was created by Lufthansa. Lido OC minimizes fuel burn by calculating the most efficient route between two points based on weather, winds, terrain and other factors. In addition to Lido, UPS Airlines ramp procedures call for single engine jet taxiing whenever possible.

The UPS Surface Management System allows the company to monitor the ground movements of its aircraft at Worldport, resulting in substantial savings in fuel related to taxiing. SMS helps the airline save as much as 400,000 gallons of fuel per year.

UPS is slowing down 30 domestic cross-country flights each week. By slowing these flights from two-11 minutes, we can still make service for customers, operate safely and save several million dollars in fuel costs.

Standards for Emissions/Air Quality

While many airports receive federal funding for establishing air quality standards, UPS believes it is in the best interests of the aviation industry to have a uniform rule for emissions that applies to airports nationwide.

UPS Airlines Environmental Recognition

2010 – The Coalition for Clean Air recognized UPS Airlines with its 2010 California Air Quality Award in the category of Corporate Leadership.

2008 – UPS was honored with 2008 Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay Excellence Award. Selection was based on documented results that prove demonstrated creative and innovative ways to reduce carbon emissions and save fuel.

2006 CERES, a non-governmental organization, included UPS in its rating of global companies that strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. UPS ranked first among the airlines rated.

1998 – UPS Airlines, Palm Beach International's only all-cargo carrier, was recognized as one of five airlines to fly 100 percent takeoffs and landings in quieter Stage 3 aircraft. The Palm County Board of County Commissioners presented the Quiet Fleet Award to UPS.

1997 – UPS became the first major airline in North America to reach 100 percent compliance with federal noise rules. The airline was two years ahead of schedule.

1994 – UPS received the Good Neighbor Award from the Aviation Board for the New Orleans International Airport in recognition of the company's efforts to limit aircraft noise in neighborhoods surrounding the airport.

1992 – The Triangle Airport Noise Coalition presented the Quiet Airline Award to UPS at the Raleigh-Durham Airport.

1991 – UPS was the first all-cargo carrier to receive the Quiet Airline Award. The award acknowledged UPS for operating the greatest percentage of aircraft complying with the FAA's strictest noise standard at New York's Kennedy Airport.


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UPS Media Relations