Flight planning involves co-ordinating logistics, and minimising taxiing and flight times. Fuel burned while waiting to take off, or in holding patterns waiting to land at a busy airport can be reduced through coordination of gate departure times with air traffic control.

The aim is to have aircraft taxiing straight from the gate to the runway at the correct time so there is no waiting for take-off. Additionally, destination arrival is timed to minimise holding patterns before landing.

Sectors and common applications

  • Air transport – Commercial air freight and passenger transport


  • 72.3/100
  • Energy saving across sectors is 127 PJ (2014 estimate).


Indicator Score
1. Energy saving and cost achievement  
1.1 Energy saving 12/15
1.2 Cost effectiveness 5/10
1.3 Prospect 5.5/10
2. Market contexts  
2.1 Sector energy savings 10/10
2.2 % of industry $ gross added value 10/10
3. Originality and innovation  
3.1 Originality 6/10
3.2 Innovation 6/10
4. Transferability/replicability
4.1 General applicability 2/5
4.2 Ease of implementation 3/5
4.3 Ability to integrate external resources 4/5
5. Co-benefits
5.1 Environmental 7/7
5.2 Social awareness 1.8/3


Virgin Blue Holdings Ltd upgraded their flight planning to include a highly accurate fuel burn figure by optimising departure and arrival flight paths, and the planned route to gain maximum benefit from upper level winds. The aircraft speed schedule was also optimised for fuel efficiency.

Qantas Airways Ltd developed a policy which guarantees that sufficient fuel will be carried for a safe flight, avoiding carriage of excessive fuel which can result in wasteful fuel burn. Historically, aircraft that operate high-frequency short-haul domestic flights were given flight plans ahead of time. Flexibility for passengers in changing flights at short notice (among other factors) has meant the estimated flight payloads can fluctuate significantly up until departure time.

The updated Qantas program allows for altered flight plans to be delivered closer to departure time, where the estimation of the aircraft’s zero fuel weight will be more accurate. Fuel load can be planned more accurately, in many cases reducing the amount required to be uplifted and so reducing fuel burn.

For more information, see:

Qantas research aims for smarter flying

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