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Taking responsibility.

The “Konnichiwa Japan” had landed at 1:30 p.m., having flown to Frankfurt from Shanghai. Now, an hour later, the last pallets are being unloaded. The Lufthansa Cargo freight plane, a Boeing 777F, had only been commissioned this spring. Living proof that the airfreight company is serious about further improving its CO₂ footprint. For an airline, a modern fleet of planes is the most important leverage factor. The “Triple Seven” now is the most fuel-efficient freighter in its class and the strongest argument for Bettina Jansen.

The physics graduate is Head of Corporate Responsibility and Environmental Management at Lufthansa Cargo. Today she has ventured out to the apron to take a closer look at the “Konnichiwa Japan”. With her is Andrea Dorothea Schön, Senior Manager Climate & Clean Air Management at the freight forwarding company DB Schenker, one of the airline’s biggest customers. Just like she did six years ago, Bettina Jansen had sent out an invitation to attend an “environmental inspection tour” at Lufthansa Cargo, Frankfurt Airport.

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The efficiency potential of the B777F rests on its two giant GE90-110 engines, plus the plane’s lightweight construction and aerodynamically optimized wings. “They are the biggest and most powerful engines used in civil aviation today – and they are also fuel-efficient, with a reduced noise level,” says Triple Sevens pilot Benjamin Kedziora, welcoming the two managers into “his” plane.

Big data for a reduced footprint.

Inside the cockpit, Kedziora explains how the manner in which the plane is operated can help save even more fuel: “For example, after take-off we retract the take-off flaps as soon as possible. This reduces drag.” The pilots prepare for a flight with the help of the OMEGA (Ops Monitor and Efficiency Gap Analyzer) big=data software that was developed with the participation of Lufthansa Cargo. The software processes data recorded on previous flights to produce a systematic analysis of fuel consumption patterns. This helps save kerosene and lower CO₂ emissions. In the first year the software was deployed, it already saved 10,000 tons of this pollutant.

Bettina Jansen reports that Boeing put the specific CO₂ emissions from the Triple Seven some 17 percent lower than those produced by the MD-11F, the aircraft the freight company had used exclusively from 2005 until November 2013. “But now, thanks to optimum use of the aircraft in our network – something to which software like OMEGA contributes as well – we have managed to reach over 20 percent.” Achieving such figures is becoming increasingly important for customers – and Andrea Dorothea Schön agrees.

The key parameter is an airline’s CO₂ efficiency rating. “The unit of measurement used here is g/tkm: we calculate how much CO₂ is produced per ton of freight transported,” says Jansen. In 2005 this figure stood at 549 g/tkm, and in 2018 it was down to 462 g/tkm. “That’s 15.8 percent less.” The aim is to achieve a reduction of 25 percent by end-2020. A key contribution is the ongoing modernization of the fleet. Lufthansa Cargo now already operates seven Triple Sevens and will be using only highly efficient twin-jet aircraft in future.

Data transparency, as in the case of the CO₂ reports, is one of eight areas that make up Lufthansa Cargo’s environmental strategy. Bettina Jansen and her team have developed the strategy and embedded it in the airline’s processes, and it is continually being updated. Another factor is “Green Flying” – touched upon briefly earlier on – with the Triple Seven, and compensation measures for the emissions produced. “By insetting, we mean taking action to achieve actual reductions, which is preferable to offsetting,” says Andrea Dorothea Schön – and Bettina Jansen agrees. Even so, as of 2020 Lufthansa Cargo will compensate for any emissions from growth within the scope of the international climate protection instrument CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation). The focus is also on the Environmental Management System (UMS), for which certification in accordance with the ISO 14001 standard was obtained for Germany initially, and which has now been certified worldwide. “This has long been a unique selling point for us,” says Jansen. “Today customers simply expect it. Worldwide certification is still somewhat special, though.” Which is no surprise, seeing as many forwarders are also pursuing ambitious climate protection goals, spurred on by the shippers. “We want to contribute towards the target of Deutsche Bahn AG, to lower specific CO₂ emissions by 50 percent from 2006 levels by 2030 in all modes of transportation,” says Schön. Airfreight accounts for over 50 percent of DB Schenker’s CO₂ footprint, she says. Which is why the manager and her team are closely monitoring the steps taken by carriers – and the progress achieved through these measures.

Big data for a reduced footprint.

Inside the cockpit, Kedziora explains how the manner in which the plane is operated can help save even more fuel: “For example, after take-off we retract the take-off flaps as soon as possible. This reduces drag.” The pilots prepare for a flight with the help of the OMEGA (Ops Monitor and Efficiency Gap Analyzer) big=data software that was developed with the participation of Lufthansa Cargo. The software processes data recorded on previous flights to produce a systematic analysis of fuel consumption patterns. This helps save kerosene and lower CO₂ emissions. In the first year the software was deployed, it already saved 10,000 tons of this pollutant.

Bettina Jansen reports that Boeing put the specific CO₂ emissions from the Triple Seven some 17 percent lower than those produced by the MD-11F, the aircraft the freight company had used exclusively from 2005 until November 2013. “But now, thanks to optimum use of the aircraft in our network – something to which software like OMEGA contributes as well – we have managed to reach over 20 percent.” Achieving such figures is becoming increasingly important for customers – and Andrea Dorothea Schön agrees.

The key parameter is an airline’s CO₂ efficiency rating. “The unit of measurement used here is g/tkm: we calculate how much CO₂ is produced per ton of freight transported,” says Jansen. In 2005 this figure stood at 549 g/tkm, and in 2018 it was down to 462 g/tkm. “That’s 15.8 percent less.” The aim is to achieve a reduction of 25 percent by end-2020. A key contribution is the ongoing modernization of the fleet. Lufthansa Cargo now already operates seven Triple Sevens and will be using only highly efficient twin-jet aircraft in future.

Data transparency, as in the case of the CO₂ reports, is one of eight areas that make up Lufthansa Cargo’s environmental strategy. Bettina Jansen and her team have developed the strategy and embedded it in the airline’s processes, and it is continually being updated. Another factor is “Green Flying” – touched upon briefly earlier on – with the Triple Seven, and compensation measures for the emissions produced. “By insetting, we mean taking action to achieve actual reductions, which is preferable to offsetting,” says Andrea Dorothea Schön – and Bettina Jansen agrees. Even so, as of 2020 Lufthansa Cargo will compensate for any emissions from growth within the scope of the international climate protection instrument CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation). The focus is also on the Environmental Management System (UMS), for which certification in accordance with the ISO 14001 standard was obtained for Germany initially, and which has now been certified worldwide. “This has long been a unique selling point for us,” says Jansen. “Today customers simply expect it. Worldwide certification is still somewhat special, though.” Which is no surprise, seeing as many forwarders are also pursuing ambitious climate protection goals, spurred on by the shippers. “We want to contribute towards the target of Deutsche Bahn AG, to lower specific CO₂ emissions by 50 percent from 2006 levels by 2030 in all modes of transportation,” says Schön. Airfreight accounts for over 50 percent of DB Schenker’s CO₂ footprint, she says. Which is why the manager and her team are closely monitoring the steps taken by carriers – and the progress achieved through these measures.

 

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To stress this point further, Bettina Jansen also included a stop at the Operations Control Center. Here specialists face walls of monitors on which they track flight movements, weather data and other parameters. This allows them to determine the shortest possible routes for the freight planes. “We also calculate how much fuel the planes carry, down to the last kilogram,” explains flight dispatcher Barbara Prosch. Jansen adds how this is relevant: “If we can eliminate just a single unnecessary kilogram of fuel on each of the roughly 12,000 flights we operate per year, we can save 8.5 tons of CO₂.”

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The last stop on this tour is the Lufthansa Cargo Center (LCC). Here we see a number of standard containers owned by the Lufthansa subsidiary Jettainer. They are made of composite material, not the more traditional aluminum. The switch to this new material has made them 13 kilograms lighter. Lufthansa Cargo intends to use only lightweight versions of standard containers by 2020. It is clear here at the LCC that Lufthansa Cargo is constantly working towards improving its environmental footprint on the ground as well. By recycling packaging materials, for example, and by refurbishing the technical facilities within the building. And then there are the skids, and the rectangular boards made from cardboard. Sold by a company located near Frankfurt Airport, they could soon replace the wooden pallets used for the build-up. They have already proven their strength and resilience in tests. Plus – and this is what makes them so interesting – they are extremely light. As is demonstrated – once more for the camera, please! – by Schön and Jansen on the spot.

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Focus on synthetic fuels.

There is still time here at the LCC for a glimpse into the future. The two managers agree: if the aviation industry wants to realize its long-term goal of CO₂-neutral operations, there is more to be done still. One of the keys to achieving this are alternative fuels. The greatest potential is seen in synthetic fuels generated by the Power-To-Liquid (PTL) process, which uses renewable electricity, water and CO₂. “This is to be done in refineries in future,” says Bettina Jansen. “Lufthansa has already signed an agreement with a facility currently being built in northern Germany, and we will of course also benefit from that.” It is a promising outlook – not least with a view to the next environmental inspection tour.

Reunited after six years.

Lufthansa Cargo has taken its responsibility for climate protection seriously for many years. Sustainability is one of the key strategic issues for the cargo airline and its customers. During the first “environmental inspection tour” by Andrea Dorothea Schön from DB Schenker and Bettina Jansen from Lufthansa Cargo in 2013, the key factors in reducing kerosene consumption, which has a linear relationship to the emission of the greenhouse gas CO₂, were the lowering of the weight on board the trijet MD-11 freighter – for example through the use of lightweight standard containers – and optimized landing approach procedures. Today Lufthansa Cargo has taken a significant step forward through the increased use of the new Boeing 777 freighter that has only twin jet engines yet is able to transport more cargo across greater distances. Here are some of the improvements achieved over the last six years:

Planet 2/2019

Photos Alex Kraus

Reunited after six years.

Lufthansa Cargo has taken its responsibility for climate protection seriously for many years. Sustainability is one of the key strategic issues for the cargo airline and its customers. During the first “environmental inspection tour” by Andrea Dorothea Schön from DB Schenker and Bettina Jansen from Lufthansa Cargo in 2013, the key factors in reducing kerosene consumption, which has a linear relationship to the emission of the greenhouse gas CO₂,

 

were the lowering of the weight on board the trijet MD-11 freighter – for example through the use of lightweight standard containers – and optimized landing approach procedures. Today Lufthansa Cargo has taken a significant step forward through the increased use of the new Boeing 777 freighter that has only twin jet engines yet is able to transport more cargo across greater distances. Here are some of the improvements achieved over the last six years:

 

Planet 2/2019

Photos Alex Kraus