Being bold

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines took a bold step for sustainable aviation last month by launching the first in a series of “Optimal Flights” using a 777 between New York and Amsterdam. And today, we have some numbers that show just how successful that first flight was.


Boeing is proud to be their partner in this effort that combines renewable fuels with advanced technology. We’re not only using sustainable biofuels, but other smart technologies and concepts to improve the airplane’s operational efficiency while saving fuel and reducing carbon and noise emissions. Basically, we’re taking multiple Boeing flight efficiency projects and rolling them into one program to create the most environmentally progressive flight possible.

So how did the airplane fare? After analysis, our partners at KLM concluded that the first flight saved approximately 1,400 kg of fuel (in the neighborhood of 450 gallons) of which Boeing’s Wind Updates service made a substantial contribution. Wind Updates provides automated wind data customized in real time and helps reduce fuel consumption. Members of Boeing’s Environment & Aviation Policy team are also working with KLM and with sustainable biofuel provider SkyNRG to commercialize jet fuel sources, which will increase their supply and lower cost.

New flight services from Boeing are also being used to increase real-time situational awareness for pilots using advanced digital aviation and air traffic management concepts. They include applications that help the crew optimize the airplane’s speed variance, while providing real-time weather advisories in flight to save fuel and enable more accurate arrival predictions.

There will be a total of 26 “optimal flights” between New York City and Amsterdam. Boeing, KLM and their partners will then review the results and establish new operational procedures and recommendations for follow-on development programs.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this revolutionary series of flights.

Comments (2)

V V (Montreal, Quebec):

I still remember vividly the 777-300ER I flew from Europe to Indonesia back in 2009 (click here). It was also one of KLM's 777-300ER.

The 777-300ER is an amazing aircraft that still does not have any contender even after almost ten years of service.
The A340-600 that was the only 777-300ER competitor so far is now out of production. The next contender will be the A350-1000XWB, but the 777-300ER will most probably mutate to an even more interesting aircraft. As I speculated in the blog entry back in November 2009, I think the 777-9 will need lower MTOW and also lower takeoff thrust despite its higher capacity than its predecessor.

I think this is the first case where a derivative aircraft needs a lower thrust and a lower MTOW despite the significant increase in capability and economics.

Norman (Long Beach, CA):

Great corporate social responsibility on behalf of KLM other airlines and Boeing. I hope to see "Optimal Flights" to other cities including Los Angeles.

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