Fuel efficiency and emissions reduction
Focusing on fuel efficiency is a critical part of our drive to decarbonize.
United is constantly focused on improving its fuel efficiency and aircraft performance, both through our own internal efforts and in conjunction with our suppliers and partners. Each new generation of aircraft has a 15-20%improvement in fuel efficiency. As of the end of 2020, we have nearly 300 new aircraft on order and pre-COVID, we invested more than $2 billion per year in new aircraft. These investments have helped us improve our fuel efficiency by 46% from 1990 to 2019.
Launching 18 new aircraft types in its history, United has consistently led the industry in introducing the latest aircraft technology to its fleet. In 2018, United became the first North American airline to take delivery of the 787-10 Dreamliner, and the first airline in the world to have the entire family of 787-8, 787-9, and 787-10 Dreamliners in our fleet. Flying up to 6,430 nautical miles, the 787-10 uses 20%less fuel than older generation airplanes, making it superior when it comes to fuel efficiency.
We also work collaboratively across our organization and with Air Traffic Control (ATC) providers to improve fuel efficiency through the implementation of best practices, by providing training to its pilots and dispatchers and supplying them with the tools needed to execute on those strategies.
We have ongoing initiatives in this area, including:
- Choosing more optimal flight paths
- Flying at optimal speeds and altitudes
- Adopting continuous descents prior to landing
- Optimizing traffic flow in cooperation with ATC providers to reduce time spent in inefficient holding patterns
- Investing in navigation technology on current aircraft
- Allowing shorter and more efficient approaches.
More than 4,300 of our Ground Support Equipment (GSE) are now powered by electricity rather than conventional fuel. As of the end of 2020, nearly 45% of our eligible GSE fleet have been electrified. In 2019, we partnered with ITW GSE to pilot the ITW 7400 electric mobile ground power unit (GPU), which drastically cuts GHG emissions by 90% and reduces workplace noise pollution. The pilot is the first use of this equipment in North America, and United is the first major U.S. airline to use a fully electric GPU for its fleet.
We are looking at every aspect of our operation in order to uncover new ways that will further our efforts in fuel efficiency and carbon emissions reduction. Learn more about fuel efficiency and reducing emissions.
Recent stories about fuel efficiency and emissions reduction
Mahalo, 747: United Airlines Announces Final Boeing 747 Flight (September 18, 2017)