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Successful iFlex flight advances route selection

By control on September 14, 2011

A Delta flight between Johannesburg and Atlanta marked the successful culmination of the International Air Transport Association’s first iFlex trial. iFlex, which seeks to improve the route-selection process on long-haul flights, could boost airline operations tremendously, industry insiders state.

iFlex technology gives carriers more flexibility when it comes to selecting routes. Whether alerting airlines about how they can use wind conditions to their advantage or providing routing data during the planning stages, iFlex cuts down on transit times.

This time-savings doesn’t only translate to happier customers and passengers, however; iFlex also reduces carbon emissions. It’s an advantage seen on the flight between Johannesburg and Atlanta. Armed with iFlex, Delta shortened its route by eight minutes, saving 900kg of fuel and reducing its carbon footprint by 2.9 tonnes.

“Annualized, and on the basis of two daily flights, this translates to savings of some 100 hours of flight, 690 tonnes of fuel and a reduction of 2,150 tonnes of CO2 emitted,” an IATA spokesman said.

Expediting the route-selection process could also save carriers money, officials said. Last year, airlines spent $139 billion on fuel, a $14 billion rise from 2009, according to IATA data. Fuel also comprised more than one-quarter of carriers’ total operating costs, association officials revealed.

It’s why Guenther Matschnigg, IATA senior vice president of safety, operations and infrastructure, is so optimistic about iFlex. He also credits IATA’s partners, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Civil Air Navigation Services Organization, the Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar, Delta Air Lines and Emirates Airline, with helping the flight trail come to fruition.

“This initiative demonstrates just what can be achieved when we work together as an industry to reduce aviation’s impact on the environment while at the same time enhancing efficiency and safety,” Matschnigg said in a statement. “We look forward to future successes based on this first trial.”

The iFlex routes became accessible to operators on August 25.

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