Published on December 2, 2016
1. Greener Flights through Optimized Flight Planning at Virgin David Pflieger
2. Introduction • Virgin America maintains a strong commitment to operating as greenly as possible and continually works to reduce its carbon footprint. Its efforts to minimize carbon dioxide emissions start long before any flight leaves the ground, as dispatchers use a range of cutting-edge tools to plan the most efficient routes possible. In 2012, the company introduced a new flight- planning system that makes use of the National Spatial Reference System created by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, as well as more traditional ground-based tools.
3. Virgin America • The flight-planning system takes into account tailwinds and headwinds to find the shortest path between destinations. In addition, Virgin flights use a variable speed based on a dynamic cost index rather than a set cruising speed. The optimal speed is calculated considering fuel costs and operating costs based on time in the air. Thus, the speed changes based on conditions like wind and altitude. Altogether, these initiatives save an average of about 400 pounds of fuel per flight, which reduces carbon dioxide emissions by about 37,000 metric tons each year.