A General View on Fuel Efficiency in Commercial Aviation

Author: Allan MacDonald

Master Thesis


The focus of this thesis is to provide an insight into fuel consumption and efficiency of commercial aircraft. This is achieved by developing two methods to estimate the fuel consumption using a top down approach (based on the Payload-Range-Diagram) respectively a bottom up approach (based on the drag polar). A comparison is done between the methods, enabling the most applicable method to be selected to suit user requirements. The factors which affect fuel consumption are discussed, with potential fuel saving techniques for existing aircraft presented. The fuel consumption estimations are incorporated into an innovative flight booking tool, which allow users to select flight routes based on environmental impact and on their individual needs. This enables users to do their part towards fulfilment of an eco-conscience industry. Fundamentally, the analysis finds that the industry growth predictions do not meet sustainability requirements. The paper discusses the unacceptability of the industry's complacency and overreliance on carbon compensation schemes, proposing the introduction of legislation to catalyse the shift towards a sustainable future. The analysis concludes that sustainability is achievable within the industry, but that this will only be achieved through active input and efforts from all parties involved.