American, Air France reschedule AIRE demos

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American Airlines and Air France are preparing to demonstrate next generation technologies and procedures designed to cut noise pollution and carbon emissions and conserve fuel after test flights originally scheduled for June were postponed following a fatal Air France Airbus A330 crash.

Both carriers will operate one precision altitude flight on 7 December between Paris Charles De Gaulle and Miami International airports, with American using an upgraded Boeing 767-300ER and Air France flying a 747, American 777/737 programme manager Brian Will tells ATI.

The tests are part of the carriers' involvement in the in Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions (AIRE), a joint initiative among several airlines, the European Commission and the FAA.

The carriers will perform several functions during their demonstration including single-engine taxi on departure and arrival, continuous climb out and descent, optimised routing over water and a tailored arrival.

Post-flight data analysis will calculate fuel and carbon savings gained during the flights, and findings will be compared to the carriers' fuel burn on non-AIRE operations between Paris and Miami. For American, the demonstration will also launch the test of its future air navigation system (FANS) upgrade for its 767-300ERs. The system includes a global positioning update to the flight management system and changes to the flight management computer that allow for the automatic downlink of an aircraft's position through controller pilot datalink communication.

The upgrade, which costs $2.2 million per aircraft, requires a special modification line and aircraft are out of service for 10 days, Will says.

Fourteen of the carrier's -300ERs had been upgraded as of June and American operates 56 of that aircraft type, according to Flightglobal's ACAS database.

The Paris-Miami demonstration is the latest fuel savings trial that American has undertaken at Miami.

In June, American began focusing on oceanic optimisation and tailored arrivals for its 777 flights between London Heathrow airport and Miami, an effort in which Air France and Lufthansa also partake. Will says tailored arrivals at Miami save between 150USgal and 300USgal of fuel per flight and American has been able to use tailored arrivals for roughly half of its London-Miami operations due to winds. He adds that he expects the airline to use tailored arrivals at the same rate once the FAA publishes the procedure.

The regulator is expected to publish the Miami tailored arrival in early 2010, paving the way for carriers not involved in the trial to use a tailored arrival at the airport, Will says.

In the meantime, American's plans to test a tailored arrival for Madrid-Miami flights starting this summer have been put on hold as the US major upgrades its 767-300ERs, Will says, noting the 777s used on that city pair have been replaced by -300ERs.