Sustainability for airlines starts with weight and balance

Fabrizio Calcabrini

Director of Amadeus Airline IT Solutions, Amadeus IT Group

It’s not something most of us think about after we buckle our seatbelts and await take-off – but for airlines the weight and balance of an aircraft is extremely important to say the least. Aircraft weight and balance is not only important for obvious safety reasons – but also for operational efficiency. Airlines that can optimise weight and balance have a competitive advantage in terms of efficiency and sustainability.



Enter theAltéa Departure Control - Flight Management, Weight and Balance solution, which is currently used by over 50 airlines and 35 Ground handlers worldwide. Built upon the core concepts of safety, accuracy, and efficiency this cutting edge technology forecasts and precisely analyses passenger/cargo load and automatically defines the ideal load distribution, thereby optimising overall fuel requirements.

So, just how does this solution save fuel for airlines?

First, you need to better understand the relationship between weight and fuel by taking a look at the Zero Fuel Weight (ZFW) of an aircraft. This weight includes the structure, crew, passengers, baggage, cargo, mail, etc. and it is the figure used to compute the fuel quantity that will be needed for the flight.

Altéa Departure Control - Flight Management calculates this value, which is known as the estimated ZFW. The estimated ZFW should be ideally within the range of 99-101% accuracy compared to the final actual ZFW to avoid negative impacts on flight processing and performance. Under-estimate the final actual ZFW and additional fuelling may be required, thus causing flight delays. Over-estimate and the additional weight causes unnecessary fuel consumption. With its accurate ZFW estimations, Altéa Flight Management helps airlines avoid unnecessary over fuelling and waste.

This estimated ZFW accuracy is calculated thanks to a sophisticated historical data collection, statistical controls, interfacing capabilities and business rule logic that produces acutely accurate forecast payload weights in comparison to other systems and methods employed by airlines. You could say that it’s a very, very intelligent solution.

With airlines placing a greater emphasis on sustainability among an environment of increasing aviation fuel prices, focus has been placed on improving the accuracy of weight and balance calculations in order to offer maximum fuel efficiency.

This strategy has already allowedFinnair to realise a 50% reduction in over fuelled flights and a 33.7% reduction in unnecessary fuel burn since they moved to Altéa Departure Control - Flight Management in 2008. And, since its launch in 2007, it has very quickly become a market leader with recognition by the travel industry, airlines and ground handlers as the best solution for operational excellence, agent productivity, flight safety and fuel efficiency.

Want to learn more about our sustainability initiatives? Have a look at the recently publishedAmadeus Global Report .


Social Responsibility, Environmental Sustainability, Altea