The industry and the environment
Approximately 2% of man-made CO2 emissions stem from aviation. Within the transport sector, road traffic constitutes approximately 75% of emissions whereas 12% are attributable to aviation. Though its share of emissions is small, the entire aviation industry is working hard to reduce its environmental footprint. The aviation industry is one of the sectors which have achieved the most in terms of emissions reductions in recent decades. But more can be done, and airlines, air framers and engine manufacturers are working closely on further improvements.
The single most effective initiative to reduce emissions from aviation is to operate a fleet of efficient aircraft. Since 1945 the aviation industry has reduced noise by 20 dB, equivalent to 75%, and fuel efficiency has improved by approximately 70% per passenger kilometer, thus also reducing CO2 and NOx emissions.
Norwegian and the environment
Norwegian is committed to actively engage in and support sustainable environmental policy, and to continue to reduce emissions from aviation. To that end, the Group is replacing less efficient Boeing 737-300 aircraft with state-of-the-art, efficient Boeing 737-800 aircraft featuring newer technology, better aerodynamics and lower component weights. By renewing the fleet, emissions are reduced, passengers are offered new and more comfortable aircraft, and the Group reduces its cost base. New technology reduces the flying distance between any two given airports, and enables pilots to make more optimal and even safer approaches.
Norwegian has a clear and achievable goal of reducing emissions per flown passenger by 25% in the period 2008 – 2015. The Norwegian Government is aiming at a reduction in greenhouse emissions equivalent to 30% of total emissions in 1990 by 2020. Compared to average emissions per passenger in 1990, the reduction per Norwegian passenger will supersede 30% by substantial margin, and well before 2020.
In 2009, Norwegian’s total fleet emitted on average 0.081 kg carbon dioxide (CO2) per unit produced (seat kilometer). The 737-800s emitted on average 0.070 kg CO2 per seat and consumed 0.028 liters of fuel per seat kilometer. On shorter distances fuel consumption is higher per kilometer as take-offs are fuel intensive. Yet, on the 324-kilometer Oslo – Bergen trip, one passenger traveling alone will emit approximately 60-70% more by driving compared to flying. On longer distances, the same passenger will emit less by flying on a Boeing 737-800 than traveling with the most efficient hybrid cars available, even without taking into consideration that driving distances are almost always longer.
Norwegian undertakes a variety of measures to minimize its environmental impact;
“Green” approaches and landings
Norwegian is engaged in several projects in both Norway and Sweden to secure a sustainable aviation industry. “Green” approaches, or Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs), are designed to reduce overall emissions during the final stages of the flight. The descent profile is planned and coordinated between pilots and air traffic controllers to ensure a continuous glide slope towards the runway, enabling the engines to run at idle during most of the descend phase of the flight. All Norwegian pilots are trained in procedures and behaviors to increase environmental focus and reduce fuel consumption.
Upon touchdown, Norwegian has introduced routines in which pilots use engine idle reverse combined with applying more braking power to landing gear brakes - contrary to using thrust reverse and applying less braking power to landing gear brakes. These measures reduce both fuel consumption and engine wear and tear.
Norwegian is committed to keeping aircraft weights to a minimum, thereby reducing emissions. This can be achieved both by simple measures such as reducing the amount of water on board depending on expected need, and more advanced measures such as investing in weight efficient carbon brakes.
All of Norwegian's -800s are fitted with winglets, a tailfin-like extension of each wingtip that reduces drag. The effect is a reduction in fuel consumption as the same lift and speed is created with less engine thrust. Winglets are most effective at cruising speeds, where they reduce fuel consumption by as much as 3-5%.
Electronic manuals in the cockpit
EFB, Electronic Flight Bag, is a new electronic information and calculation system installed in the cockpit of all Norwegian aircraft. The system makes the pilots’ tasks significantly more efficient, and safer. The new electronic system replaces virtually the entire hard-copy operating hierarchy. Weight, balance and performance calculations at take-off and landing no longer need to be performed manually.
The new tool will reduce paper consumption by between 80% and 90%, lowering aircraft weight. Work processes will become quicker and engine performance calculations more precise, reducing engine thrust and wear. Calculations indicate a reduction in annual CO2 emissions of approximately 17,000 tons.
Engine and aircraft wash
Air contains contaminants such as dust, pollen and dirt. With the tremendous amount of air running through an aircraft engine, these particles together with soot from fuel combustion form a coating inside the engine which over time reduces efficiency.
Norwegian runs a special engine wash program on each aircraft 2-3 times per year. Engine wash enhances air flow and reduces internal drag within the engine.
Norwegian’s aircraft are also regularly cleaned and polished externally, reducing drag. The use of detergents and chemicals is subject to a stringent set of requirements, and residue is sorted and recycled after use.
The combined effect of engine and aircraft washing is a decrease in fuel consumption, reducing CO2 emissions by approximately 16,000 tons per year.
Winter operations in Scandinavia are subject to challenging weather conditions. The removal of ice, frost and snow from the aircraft is a prerequisite for maintaining safe operations. De-icing fluid contains glycol depending on temperature and weather conditions.
Traditionally a standard mix covering all weather conditions is used. This mix is comparable to the standard windshield washer fluid used on cars, not necessarily optimal for the prevailing weather conditions. In order to reduce the emissions of concentrated fluids containing glycol, Norwegian has in cooperation with ground handling companies invested in de-icing trucks which can adjust the ratio of the mixture according to weather-dependent requirements.
The state-of-the-art trucks are also equipped with pneumatic snow removers, reducing the need for de-icing fluid altogether. Compared to conventional de-icing equipment, the reduction in glycol use is in the area of 60-65 %.
Waste sorting and recycling
Norwegian is participating in a variety of projects to increase the rate of waste sorting and recycling. On-board waste is sorted and recycled in cooperation with the airports and subcontractors. Profits from redemption of bottle deposits are transferred to charitable organizations such as Unicef and the Red Cross.
IT equipment is collected by Fair, an organization that deletes and formats discs and re-uses the equipment.
The Group complies with official government strategy on waste by preventing waste from being generated when possible, reducing the amount of waste-containing materials hazardous to the environment to a minimum, promoting waste sorting, enhancing energy consumption, and ensuring that hazardous materials are properly handled.
Cooperation with other stakeholders
Norwegian is active in several environmentally oriented projects in the Scandinavian countries. In Norway the Group in participating in a project involving Avinor (government-controlled airport operator), NHO - Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise and the SAS Group to promote a sustainable aviation industry. The primary goal is to identify and implement actions that will reduce the environmental footprint of the industry, making it carbon neutral by 2050.
In Sweden the Group is involved in a project named “Green Flights,” involving the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority (Luftfartsverket) and other actors in Swedish aviation.
Emissions Trading Scheme
Effective 2012 EU and EEA countries will include aviation in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS). In brief, EU ETS requires all emitters to surrender one emissions allowance for every ton CO2 emitted. Allowances must be bought in the open market, and are in limited supply. More emissions equal higher cost for the emitter, in line with the “polluter pays” principle, which is fully endorsed by Norwegian.
The EU ETS is designed so that it favors efficient operators measured in terms of emissions per passenger, and incentivizes the entire industry to focus even more on reducing emissions.
Contrary to national and regional “green taxes,” which distort international competition and are often imposed based on a per passenger or aircraft weight basis and not on actual emissions, the EU ETS is designed to be an effective incentive to reduce actual emissions. The scheme includes all carriers operating within or to the EU irrespective of nationality or point of origin.
Photos: Tore Jenssen, Olav Stendal & Glenn Røkeberg