Whilst most aviation emissions are produced by aircraft in the air, a small proportion occurs on the ground, as planes taxi from the gate to the runway. An increasing number of airlines worldwide are working with pilots to start taxiing on half the normal number of engines.

Depending on the aircraft, either one or two engines can be shut down for taxiing. Virgin Atlantic has updated the guidance manuals for pilots across the whole fleet.  In 2014 the airline trialled a behaviour change and communications drive on this procedure. As a result, it saw a massive improvement via fuel management software, with over 2,362 tonnes of CO2 being saved. 

Other initiatives being rolled out through Virgin Atlantic’s fuel efficiency programme include a weight saving scheme. Engineers identified a calcium build-up in the aircraft plumbing and trialled a descaling technique. They flushed the system through to break down the calcium deposits which, as well as saving on weight, will reduce pipe blockages and improve the reliability of the toilets. This procedure will be used across the fleet in 2015 with estimated savings of 2,122 tonnes of CO2 annually. 

At the end of 2014, Virgin Atlantic also removed a secondary tow bar fitting on all of its A330-300 fleet which was surplus to operational requirements. During 2015, this will save 38 tonnes of CO2.

The airline is also looking at how it uses water on board. By analysing water and passenger data to understand how much water is used, Virgin Atlantic has been able to reduce the amount of drinkable water loaded on to aircraft. In 2014, this helped save 781.8 tonnes of CO2. 

All these initiatives are made possible by multiple teams working together and are underpinned by Virgin Atlantic’s fuel efficiency software which is used to model and monitor progress.