ALPA Pilots Safeguard the Environment on Every Flight

By Capt. Tim Canoll, ALPA President

As world leaders meet for the United Nations Conference on Climate Change this week, it’s a great opportunity to recognize how much airline pilots are working to protect the environment, safely enhance efficiency, limit noise, and save money.

Here are just a few examples of how airline pilots who transport both passengers and cargo fly green every day and on every flight:

- Using single-engine outbound taxi

In accordance with airline procedures and when conditions permit, pilots may use a single engine while taxiing on ramps or taxiways to get to the end of a runway for takeoff.

- Shutting down unnecessary power during inbound taxi

Once they have taxied the aircraft off the landing runway and are headed toward the gate, pilots may shut down one of the aircraft’s operating engines when the additional engine isn’t needed.

- Minimizing use of auxiliary power units

The auxiliary power unit (APU) on an aircraft is an additional engine that provides pilots with electrical power when needed. Pilots minimize the use of APUs when not needed.

- Employing technology-enhanced departure procedures

When available, pilots fly new procedures that capitalize on innovative technology to shorten travel distances and time required during approach and departure.

- Operating at optimal altitude

As conditions permit, pilots request permission to fly the aircraft at its optimal altitude, which varies based on the aircraft weight and operating conditions.

- Choosing optimal speed flight plans

While safety and air traffic control considerations take priority, pilots often opt to operate a flight at the most efficient speed, which can vary based on the aircraft weight, winds, and weather.

- Flying with precision navigation

New GPS-based precision navigation technology enables pilots to fly direct, shorter routings rather than longer, indirect airways based on radio signals.

- Exercising continuous descent arrival and optimized descent procedures

Some approach procedures require pilots to reduce power, descend to a new altitude, and add power to level off several times in a “stair step” approach to landing at an airport. When conditions permit, new procedures at certain airports allow pilots to reduce power on all engines in a continuous descent and avoid applying any additional power until just before landing.

- Using reduced vertical separation minimum

New, more precise technology allows pilots to fly certain equipped aircraft at safe but closer distances to each other, giving the pilots more opportunities to fly an aircraft at its optimal altitude and use the airspace more efficiently.

ALPA’s commitment to environmental sustainability is growing every day. In addition to individual pilots’ work in the cockpit, ALPA collaborates with stakeholders across the industry to advance aviation’s environmental sustainability in areas including aircraft design, the development of alternative fuels, and airspace utilization.

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Categories: Industry, International
Tags: Global Green;