The Slimfast Diet for Airplanes

squeezing every drop of weight photo

From cover of Airplane! by Robert Grossman

We learned in back in high school physics that it takes energy to move a mass, and the more mass, the more energy. Paul Kedrosky lists some of the tiny moves that airlines are making to squeeze every ounce out, which add up to big savings in fuel.

  • One airline saved over 17 gallons/year per pound of weight per airplane after shedding inflight phones, ovens, excess potable water, and some galley equipment on an older fleet
  • In removing seatback phones from its MD-80s and B737-400s, another airline shed 200 pounds per airplane, translating into 3,400+ gallons saved annually
  • Alaska Airlines indicated in March 2004 that removing just five magazines per aircraft could save $10,000 per year in fuel; also, the airline has reduced the weight of catering supplies
  • Air Canada considered stripping primer and paint from its 767s to save 360 lbs. per plane

  • JetBlue and US Airways and others have moved toward a paperless cockpit
    By removing six seats, JetBlue reduced A320 weight by approximately 904 pounds
  • Airlines have been able to remove ovens, trash compactors, or even entire galleys, due to the elimination of hot meals on selected flights; others are using lighter seats;
  • they have also removed magazine racks and replaced hard cabin dividers with curtains
  • AirTran ordered carbon fiber Recaro seats for its 737-700s to shave 19.4 pounds per row, resulting in estimated fuel savings of $2,000 per year per aircraft
  • Alaska‚Äôs new beverage cart, at 20 lbs. lighter, could save $500,000 in annual fuel costs
  • Some airlines flush lavatories during extended ground delays to minimize takeoff weight

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