DGCA asks airlines to cut fuel emissions, become eco-friendly

Sept. 2, 2010


Sept. 02--MUMBAI -- In a bid to cut down carbon emissions, the aviation regulator has asked airlines to become fuel-efficient.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) last week issued a circular directing domestic carriers to make in-house operational changes in order to discipline fuel usage.

By mid-October, all domestic carriers should submit reports of their fuel consumption patterns. Every quarter the regulator will review their performance.

Air traffic contributes about 3 per cent of green house gas (GHG) emissions in the world. There is no researched data on what part Indian air traffic plays to that but projections show the country is amongst the few nascent markets to grow at the rate of 15 to 20 per cent in next five years.

"We are at a crucial stage. It is a good time to discipline out fuel usage," said a DGCA official requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to talk to the media. Using eco-friendly fuel is one of the most important changes suggested in the circular.

According to the International Air Transport Association, the world's biggest airline lobby, expects its member to replace 10 per cent of aircraft jet fuel with alternative fuels by 2017.

Last year four international member airlines had already experimented with biofuel mixes of jatropha, algae, or coconut oil, often blended with kerosene.

IATA expects that the usage of such biofuels could potentially reduce the industry's carbon footprint by 80 per cent.

Currently, a single person's return journey from Mumbai to Delhi on an economic class ticket bears a carbon footprint of 246.12 kg.

The DGCA has suggested simple measures such as keeping the engine and airframe clean, using fuel-efficient airplanes such as the Airbus A 380 and cutting down flights on routes with low passenger loads.

It has already enforced rules that punish airlines for delays in order to eliminate fuel wastage because of circling above airports or waiting endlessly on tarmacs.

"Airlines until now used to solely blame air congestion for bad fuel efficiency. That excuse will not work anymore," said a senior official with the civil aviation ministry, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to talk to the media.