Friday Seminar: Quantifying the Effects of Excessive Fuel Loading at a Major Airline


Tomorrow's TRANSOC Friday Seminar is the third of the semester and features our third mode: aviation! This week, UC Berkeley Civil Engineering PhD students (and NEXTOR researchers) Michael Seelhorst and Lu Hao will present. "Quantifying the Effects of Excessive Fuel Loading at a Major Airline"

In the past 10 years, jet fuel prices have risen almost 500%. As a result, fuel now makes up the largest single expense at most airlines. For example, Delta Air Lines spends $12 billion on fuel each year. With more competition from no-frills carriers and less demand from a lagging economy, legacy air carriers have resorted to dramatic cost reduction strategies in recent years.

Airline fuel efficiency has been studied from a variety of perspectives, from increasing fuel efficient technologies to improving aircraft routing. We focus on an area that has been largely ignored: excessive fuel loading. Flight dispatchers often choose to load extra fuel, beyond the mission required amount, to account for flight contingencies, such as long taxi times, air traffic control re-routes, and poor weather conditions. The extra fuel burn required to carry the additional fuel is not trivial, and presents a huge opportunity for airlines to reduce costs. We investigated strategies for reducing fuel consumption at Delta Air Lines through on-site observations and interviews with flight dispatchers as well as statistical analysis of archival fuel loading data. We estimate that $150 million is being wasted every year through unnecessary fueling practices.

The seminar will be from 4:00-5:00 PM in 534 Davis. TRANSOC's Cookie Hour, as ever, will be in the library at 3:30.