Last updated: 09:59 AM ET, Wed July 01 2015

'Greener Skies' Initiative Reduces Flight Times, Emissions at Sea-Tac Airport

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | July 01, 2015

'Greener Skies' Initiative Reduces Flight Times, Emissions at Sea-Tac Airport

According to a recently released report from Boeing, the implementation of new technologies and Federal Aviation Administration procedures as part of the "Greener Skies" initiative has Alaska Airlines on track to save nearly 90 gallons of fuel and shave as much as nine minutes off flight times with each landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The benefits also include reducing carbon emissions by nearly one metric ton each time an Alaska flight lands at Sea-Tac.

Earlier this year, carriers that met certain requirements, including Alaska, were given the green light to land with a reduced requirement of lateral separation, improving efficiency. 

The more efficient landing procedure is made possible by satellite technology that allows equipped flights to descend continuously, creating a shorter flight path that requires less power and therefore reduces fuel consumption, flight time, and emissions. 

"About 80 percent of the aircraft landing at Sea-Tac are equipped with avionics to use the Greener Skies approaches and can take advantage of the cost and environmental benefits of flying more efficiently," said Alaska Airlines vice president of flight operations Gary Beck in a statement. "This project is proof that when airlines partner with the FAA and air traffic controllers, airplane manufacturers and airports, great things can happen."

"What we've done here in Seattle is a blueprint for how our industry can help modernize the national airspace for future generations," he added. 

For a better idea of just how much of an impact the more precise route is having at Sea-Tac, Alaska's annual reduction in carbon dioxide is equivalent to the emissions produced from driving 4,800 roundtrips between Seattle and Miami. 

"The Port of Seattle is glad to be a partner in this effort to reduce the environmental footprint of our airport and create increased efficiencies for current flight corridors that benefit operations and surrounding communities," Sea-Tac Airport director of operations and customer service Mike Ehl said in a statement. "Whenever we consider airport improvements our goal is to be the most energy efficient we can be."

So far, the reported benefits of the "Greener Skies" initiative at Sea-Tac are 28 percent greater than originally projected five years ago. 

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