Airbus launches new Sustainable Aviation Fuel Trial

A team of aerospace specialists has launched the first in-flight emissions study using 100 per cent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) on a wide-body commercial passenger aircraft.

Airbus, German research centre DLR, Rolls-Royce and SAF producer Neste have teamed up to start the pioneering ‘Emission and Climate Impact of Alternative Fuels’ (ECLIF3) project looking into the effects of SAF on aircraft emissions and performance.

Findings from the study – to be carried out on the ground and in the air using an Airbus A350-900 aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines – will support efforts currently underway at Airbus and Rolls-Royce to ensure the aviation sector is ready for the large-scale use of SAF as part of the wider initiative to decarbonise the industry.

Fuel-clearance engine tests, including a first flight to check operational compatibility of using 100 per cent SAF with the aircraft’s systems, started at Airbus’ facilities in Toulouse, France, this week. These will be followed by the ground-breaking flight-emissions tests due to start in April and resuming in the Autumn, using DLR’s Falcon 20-E ‘chase plane’ to carry out measurements to investigate the emissions impact of using SAF.

Meanwhile, further ground tests measuring particulate-matter emissions are set to indicate the environmental impact of SAF-use on airport operations.

Both the flight and the ground tests will compare emissions from the use of 100 per cent SAF produced with HEFA (hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids) technology against those from fossil kerosene and low-sulphur fossil kerosene.

The SAF will be provided by Neste, a leading worldwide supplier of sustainable aviation fuel. Additional measurement and analysis for the characterisation of the particulate-matter emissions during the ground testing will be delivered by the UK’s University of Manchester and the National Research Council of Canada.

“SAF is a vital part of Airbus’ ambition to decarbonise the aviation industry and we are working closely with a number of partners to ensure a sustainable future for air travel,” said Steven Le Moing, new energy program manager, Airbus.

“Aircraft can currently only operate using a maximum 50 per cent blend of SAF and fossil kerosene; this exciting collaboration will not only provide insight into how gas-turbine engines function using 100 per cent SAF with a view to certification, but identify the potential emissions reductions and environmental benefits of using such fuels in flight on a commercial aircraft too.”

More Routes proposed Under UDAN 4.1

On the commencement of the ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (India@75)’ launched by Government of India, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has proposed about 392 routes under UDAN 4.1 bidding process. The Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) – Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) is a flagship scheme of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) envisaged to make air travel affordable and widespread in the country. The scheme intends to boost inclusive national economic growth, employment opportunities, and air transport infrastructure development across the nation. Till date, 325 routes and 56 airports including 5 heliports and 2 Water Aerodromes have been operationalised under the UDAN scheme.

The UDAN 4.1 round is focused on connecting smaller airports, along with special helicopter and seaplane routes. In addition to these, some new routes have been proposed under the Sagaramala Seaplane Services in consultation with the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.

Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary, MoCA said, “Following the four successful rounds of bidding, the special UDAN 4.1 bidding round invites bids for priority routes which have not been covered under UDAN so far. This bidding round also includes routes specially requested by the State governments/UT administrations and earlier cancelled/ terminated routes. We have observed great demand on many Tier-2 & Tier-3 UDAN routes attesting the necessity along with essentiality & criticality of these regional routes. We aim to equip our country with one of the strongest air connectivity networks”.

Some of the operational flexibilities are extended to Airlines under the UDAN 4.1 to ensure suitable operation models to connect smaller cities/airstrips. Additionally, operations under NSOP will be allowed for seaplane, fixed-wing aircraft, Helicopters for RCS Routes awarded under UDAN 4.1.

The Bid Document is uploaded on the Central Procurement portal of the National Informatics Centre inviting the bids from interested airlines. The bidding process is expected to be completed by 6 weeks.

IndiGo Expands Regional Presence, announces Rajkot as its New Destination

In its bid to strengthen regional connectivity, IndiGo announced Rajkot as its next destination on the 6E network. The airline will operate direct flights from Rajkot to Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad as part of its summer 2021 schedule, w.e.f March 28, 2021. These new connections will strengthen connectivity between Rajkot and the key metro cities in the country, while fulfilling the demand for enhanced connectivity.
Mr Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, IndiGo said, “We are pleased to announce Rajkot as our new domestic destination to strengthen regional connectivity. Rajkot, known for its casting and forging industries, is one of the prime

Aviation X Lab to Reinvent Next Era of Air Travel

Aviation X Lab

Tamanna Bhatia

Aviation X Lab, the ambitious aviation-specific incubator that brings some of the largest global pioneers under one umbrella, was unveiled at AREA 2071, recently. Aviation X Lab was founded in October 2017 with an MoU signed in the presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Aviation X Lab establishes a long-term partnership between Emirates and Airbus, Collins Aerospace, GE Aviation and Thales intending to enhance the travel experience. Telecom provider du (company) has signed on as its Digital Innovation Partner.

In partnership with Dubai Future Foundation, Aviation X Lab aims to innovate and create the next era of aviation with its bold vision to positively impact the lives of one billion people.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive Emirates Airline & Group said, “Aviation is a cornerstone of the UAE’s economy, supporting around 800,000 jobs and contributing US$47.4 billion to the economy, which is set to increase nearly three-fold by 2037. Dubai is looking to mitigate the challenges in the aviation ecosystem, and we have a laser-sharp focus on the evolution of technology and innovations that impact the industry, communities, future generations, and our planet. We want to look far beyond aviation as it exists today and embrace the innovations waiting to happen, the next set of Big Ideas in the aviation space. Aviation X Lab will identify, support, fund and make these innovations accessible globally. We aim to transform human mobility.”

Aviation X Lab announced it’s first-ever challenges with the deadline for submissions set in early 2020:

Challenge 1 – Carbon Negative Aviation Industry:

Although the aviation industry is responsible for just 2% of the world’s carbon emissions, the challenge is based on the premise that airlines produce 115 gm of CO2 per passenger, which is 859 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. The challenge is to reduce this by 100gm or 87% to 15gm of CO2 per passenger-km by 2030.

Challenge 2 – Airports to AirPortal’s:

While the travel industry is projected to double in the next 15 years, adding 3.4 billion new travellers, the current model of airports is a barrier to passenger growth. The challenge is to rethink the airports’ model to achieve metrics of 10 passengers per m2 of airport infrastructure with a 10-minute maximum transition time between landside and airside.

Aviation X Lab to Reinvent
Aviation X Lab

Aviation X Lab is inviting and reaching out to start-ups, innovators, academics, NGOs, activists, and corporates globally to participate in the challenges. The incubator will select teams and bring them to Dubai to co-create experiment and develop prototypes at their premises in Area 2071. In the next phase, up to four teams will be shortlisted and invited to pitch to investors and venture capitalists for additional funding.

Later CRM models followed similar teachings but also incorporated better overall decision-making skills. Error management became the focus of the more advance CRM training modules. CRM further evolved into teaching pilots risk management strategies, focusing on workload management, recognising hazardous attitudes or patterns, maintaining situational awareness, and communicating effectively in order to operate efficiently and safely in all aspects of flight.

Aviation X Lab is inviting and reaching out to start-ups, innovators, academics, NGOs, activists and corporates globally to participate in the challenges. The incubator will select teams and bring them to Dubai to co-create experiment and develop prototypes at their premises in Area 2071. In the next phase, up to four teams will be shortlisted and invited to pitch to investors and venture capitalists for additional funding.

The opening event witnessed demos of three key products – two from Emirates, and one from Thales.

 Emirates demonstrated two ground-breaking solutions incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. One supports an important sustainability goal – reducing food waste. The technology provides real-time predictions and recommendations that ensure customers get their first choice in-flight while minimising quantities of unconsumed food. Bahja, an app created by a team of UAE Nationals, incorporates facial recognition technology to help measure employee happiness and provides real-time feedback. The app encourages employees to share their motivations with the user community, contributing to a happier workplace, and therefore happier customers.

Thales showcased how Solo, its virtual assistant powered by Thales True AI (Transparent, Understandable, and Ethical AI), could help increase safety and support the pilot in every decisive moment during flight. In the demo, Solo leveraged every available data to permanently provide the crew with the most efficient trajectory to optimise flight efficiency and passenger comfort.

Aviation X Lab will work in cycles of 12 months with five key active phases: launching challenges; sourcing start-ups globally; validating concepts; exploring rapid feasibility, and sourcing funding. Through this journey, X Lab will offer hands-on logistics support, research, resources, peer feedback, mentorship, and close collaboration to bring a change in the aviation ecosystem.

The Importance of Effective Crew Resource Management Training


Tamanna Bhatia

Effective Crew Resource Management Training

Around the 1980s, several airlines had developed and were delivering Effective Crew Resource Management (CRM) training. The main objective was to provide situational awareness, especially to the pilots. It was initially called cockpit resource management, and then it was termed crew resource management. The main idea behind CRM training was to develop synergies and teambuilding skills among the crew members. It was considered to be an important part of learning safety measurements. And therefore, in the 1990s, the training included not just the pilots but also the other staff like flight attendants and engineers as everyone played a role in safety.

One of the major drivers behind CRM was the incident in March 1977. Two 747 aircraft – KLM and Pan Am, both bound for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, were temporarily diverted to Tenerife because the Las Palmas airport had been closed by a terrorist bomb explosion. The KLM flight landed at Tenerife first, and its passengers were deplaned.

The Pan Am flight landed 45 minutes later, but its passengers remained on board. After 15 minutes, the airport at Las Palmas reopened, and the Pan Am flight was ready for departure. However, the KLM flight decided to take on a full load of fuel at Los Rodeos. It blocked the way to the active runway and the Pan Am flight got stuck behind the KLM flight. While the KLM flight was refuelling, the weather condition deteriorated, and the tower lost visibility of both the aircraft. There was a breakdown in communications between the tower and both the airlines. The poor visibility did not allow the two airlines’ crew to see each other and all this added to further miscommunication problems.

KLM was instructed to back taxi and Pan Am was supposed to follow later. But Pan Am did not understand the instructions correctly and could not figure out the exit runway it was instructed to take. The weather condition further deteriorated. The KLM pilot also misunderstood the controller and took off without getting a clearance. It was too late by the time, the Pan Am 747 spotted the KLM 747’s landing lights. Although the Pan Am tried to avoid collision by turning, it could not prevent the mishap. The KLM was briefly airborne, but the collision resulted in it crashing about 500 feet from where the collision took place. The plane was fully fuelled and that also contributed to turning it into a ball of fire.

This incident was caused due to several reasons. To begin with, the KLM Captain’s failure to confirm tower instructions and taking off without clearance and the flight engineer’s failure to warn the captain. Then there were overlapping radio transmissions which made the messages unclear. The investigation also pointed out the use of some non-standard phrases used by the KLM co-pilot and the Tower. Pan Am also continued to exit C-4 instead of exiting at C-3 as directed due to lack of visibility. Finally, it was realised that the airport was forced to accommodate a larger number of aircraft than it could handle safely.


Crew resource management was introduced in the late 1970s in response to NASA accident investigation research. The NASA research reported the human error element involved in aircraft accidents with multiple crews. Introducing CRM at this time was to gain an environment of equal respect, teamwork and cooperation to safely accomplish the mission of the flight.

Later CRM models followed similar teachings but also incorporated better overall decision-making skills. Error management became the focus of the more advance CRM training modules. CRM further evolved into teaching pilots risk management strategies, focusing on workload management, recognising hazardous attitudes or patterns, maintaining situational awareness, and communicating effectively in order to operate efficiently and safely in all aspects of flight.

CRM training was created to optimise human and crew performance by reducing the effect of human error through the use of all resources, including people, hardware (technology) and information (process) to solve problems. Used primarily for improving air safety; CRM also focuses on interpersonal communication, leadership and decision-making in the cockpit.

From the 1990s and 2000s, CRM courses were considered important and were well attended. Most of the airlines held on-site training at their facilities and the entire flight department was expected to complete initial CRM training with recurrent sessions occurring on an annual or biennial basis. However, the trend of on-site training is no more as rigorous as it used to be. CRM was primarily introduced to handle situation awareness and develop a team spirit. These are important aspects and should be given precedence. The new trends like E-Learning programmes cannot replace the conventional methods. Training should be more interactive for better understanding and handling of difficult situations.

Dynamic Airline Pricing

Airline Pricing

Tamanna Bhatia

Airline Pricing

Ticket airline pricing in airlines is quite dynamic. Checking the fares while booking can be frustrating when they do not appear to be transparent. Fewer stopovers, decent timing, a shorter route can cost a lot these days because airlines are offering fares which vary a lot depending on all these and several other factors. And if you do not choose the right time to book the flight, then you might end up sitting next to a passenger who paid half of what you had to for the exact same journey.

Airfare has a lot of pricing variables. The airfare changes from one day to another and according to an expert in the industry, the basic business strategy of an airline is to find ways of bridging the gap between cheaper modes of transport and more expensive airlines offering the same connections.

Depending on the time of booking and the seats available, airlines offer several different fare classes.

Typically, the ticket price includes the base fare, taxes and airport fees, fuel surcharge, service fee to issue ticket, food, seat selection and baggage allowance. In the case of a low-cost carrier, the last four are not relevant in the main fare.

One of the most significant factors that affect the price of the tickets includes the price of oil. Whenever the crude oil price rises, the airlines’ costs also go up. Airlines practising fuel hedging might have some control over the prices which are affected by oil price, but for the majority of the airlines, fuel price is the top operating expense.

The second factor which determines a ticket price is competition. Airlines offer fares which are competitive in order to have more business. If there is more competition on a particular route, then the fares are generally better compared to the routes where an airline has a monopoly.

It has been reported that booking a flight on Tuesday or Wednesday is cheaper than booking it on other days. Unless it is for business, it is recommended to book flights on the days when airlines offer a lower price. And if the passenger can be flexible, then flying on Friday or Sunday should be avoided because airlines normally flare up the fares for these days.

Therefore, it is not only where you fly but also when you fly that matters. The cheapest days to fly are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and often Saturdays because of low demand. Christmas time and summer vacation days are usually the most expensive periods but the prices can vary depending on the location.

Airine pricing
Airine pricing

While explaining the pricing structure, it is important to know that airlines assign different booking class to each ticket. And if any changes have to be made to the ticket, it would depend on the currently available booking class. This implies that if someone has booked a ticket for 50,000 INR and even if the ticket is changeable, it does not mean that you can change the dates for the same fare by paying the stated changing fee. It would rather depend on the class under which new ticket is available, and you would be required to pay that difference.

Each booking class has a different price based on various factors. And although there may be 100 seats in Economy, there may only be ten seats in each different fare bucket.

Airport fees and taxes also play a significant role in ticket pricing. If an airline operates from a smaller airport, then it might charge less. As a general rule, last moment ticket prices are always higher unless there is a special promotional offer. Don’t wait too long to book your next flight if you have already planned a trip.

There are many small elements which bring a lot of difference in maintaining the budget of a trip. If done sensibly, these small elements could save substantial amounts of money. Airlines use these pricing strategies to maximise profits and fill their planes. These days there are no cheap fares and in order to avoid paying more, make sure you book on the right days and be a smart traveller.

Dealing with Infrastructure Crisis

Infrastructure crises image 3

Tamanna Bhatia

The trend is quite evident, and we see more people are travelling by air these days in Asia. The number will keep growing exponentially, and there are some significant fleet orders in this region which confirms the growth. However, there is still an infrastructure crisis which we need to deal with in this region.

IATA has predicted the passenger numbers to double to 8.2 billion in 2037. Asia Pacific region is the fastest-growing aviation market and would contribute to the growth of the worldwide aviation. It is estimated that more than half of the growth of passengers will come from this region.

Some of the Asian hubs have already exceeded their capacity and are already operating above their planned capacity. This means frequent delays and additional operating costs. The government plans to create mega-hub airports, but it is believed that these plans are not viable from a cost perspective and might not be able to keep up with the increasing demand.

Perhaps, developing smaller and medium-sized airports might be more beneficial as it would be cost-efficient and also help in the growth of two-three tier cities. The aviation industry is also concerned about sustainability and expansion of airports involves expanding the commercial and airside of the airport. Speaking about environment pollution, the aviation industry has a major role in dealing with the challenges of environment and global warming. In an IATA press release, it was noted that the aviation industry remains committed to its goals of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards and cutting CO2 emissions to half of 2005 levels by 2050.

Highlighting the need for upgrading the infrastructure, Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO, IATA, mentioned that Asia needs to develop its infrastructure at a rapid rate because of the fast growth. He added that there was a need for adaptive infrastructure regarding air traffic control or airport to cope with that growth. IATA is advocating for an infrastructure which has enough capacity and is technologically advanced enough to be able to meet the requirements of the airlines and the passengers. 

In India in 2018-19, a total of 107 airports provided scheduled airline operations. The civil aviation ministry in India has decided to lease out six brown-field airports of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) at Guwahati, Lucknow, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mangalore and Thiruvananthapuram via public, private partnership (PPP) model for enhanced revenue. The last report from civil aviation revealed that the total passenger traffic to, from and within India, during Apr-Nov 2018 grew by around 15%. India is currently the seventh-largest aviation market with 187 million passengers in FY 2017-18 and will become the third-largest by 2022.

To deal with the infrastructure crisis, the airports have to invest in ground handling and airport operations and make the processes more efficient. Several new trends show the use of AI and automated machines which can support check-in, bag-drop, seamless immigration clearance, etc. which used to be done by humans earlier. Airports in the Asia Pacific are investing in cloud computing as well to keep up with the safety and security requirements.

The current challenges at the airport include frequent flight delays, long waiting in queues and circling of aircraft before landing and these are due to the underdeveloped infrastructure at the airports.

The good news is that based on the growth prospects, foreign investors are turning their attention to the Asia Pacific countries. Several strategic and financial investors as well as organisations such as the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank are interested in FDI (foreign direct investment) that supports the development and expansion of the region’s airports. In order to take advantage of this, the local regulatory authorities need to cooperate and attract investors.

Aviation Consultancy – PwC had outlined in a report that it is expected that airports with terminal capacities of 20-25 million passengers and runway capacity of around 50 million will give the optimal combination of scale economy while allowing the majority of passengers to travel on point-to-point flights. Therefore, governments should plan to construct more optimally sized airports with capacities of 20-50 million passengers per annum, rather than mega-hubs exceeding 100 million passengers.