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Fuel Sense: Every drop counts at FedEx Express

February 13, 2015

FedEx fuel sense

Do you plan to reduce your impact on the environment by taking actions at work to save fuel? If so, how do you plan on going about it? Will you make small adjustments or suggestions to change entire programs? This is the story of Fuel Sense. It involves both small, individual actions and big organizational shifts all contributing to a significant reduction in our company’s jet fuel consumption over the last seven years.

The Fuel Sense program began because fuel prices were climbing at an alarming rate and the way we were managing aviation fuel was unsustainable. The program was developed and executed by a cross-divisional FedEx Express team by making one change at a time – quite often a very small change – until we mastered it. Over the years, these changes were successful because of individual decisions every day, around the world, to do something different. Specific examples include:

  • Pilots consciously waiting to start their last engine during taxi out, or shutting the first one down while taxiing in rather than at the gate
  • Aircraft technicians connecting ground power to aircraft quickly to reduce the usage of auxiliary aircraft power at ten times the cost
  • Aircraft dispatchers reducing the amount of optional fuel planned on every flight which saved $1 million for every minute reduced across the fleet for a year
  • Ramp agents keeping the parking gates clear to allow taxiing aircraft to arrive and marshal into position quickly and efficiently thus saving very expensive aircraft wait-time
  • MEM ramp tower orchestrating push back and taxi effectively which improved departure rates and reduced costly taxi time
  • fuel-sense-2-fedex-blogEngineering innovation which reduced the weight on our aircraft by removing unnecessary equipment and decreased the fuel burned on every flight while providing capacity for additional packages when the flight was weight critical
  • Air Traffic Operations coordinating with the FAA to implement idle descents and changing the way we separate aircraft

These are part of the 45 projects in our Fuel Sense program. By making small adjustments in how we support the efficiency of our system, all of our team members are able to contribute on a daily basis. It’s the Fuel Sense concept of “every drop counts.” The question is: What will I do today to make a difference and reduce carbon emissions by saving a drop? This blog series will show you the faces of the Fuel Sense effort and the employee champions who make it work. Come take the ride with us.

Part 2: It Only Works When We Work Together

By Walt Nolte, Sr. Mgr. Line Mx, FedEx Express

While I’ve seen the effects of Fuel Sense first hand it has taken some time to grasp the power of this project.

I understand what aircraft maintenance provides for Fuel Sense, however,  it wasn’t until the actual numbers were posted that I stood back and realized the monumental impact this program has had. Since 2007 when we started, we’ve saved 334.2 million gallons of fuel. This is a big number but it means even more when put into perspective.

The emissions produced from 334.2 million gallons of jet fuel is like burning 3,189,323,308 lbs of coal – enough energy to power 270,000 homes for a year. The cost savings would be enough to purchase four Boeing 777 freighters. When I look at it in these terms, I see the huge contribution each of our team members have made. It takes a team effort, though. Fuel Sense only works when we – and this means all of us (Flight, Line Maintenance, GOC, Ramp, Facilities and Planning) – work together.

How does each team member contribute? Consider this. Simply keeping APU (auxiliary power unit on the aircraft) usage down by 60 seconds across all our flights adds up. That could save us 230,000 gallons. The emissions avoided here is equivalent to taking 470 cars off the road for a whole year.

Annual Savings

Aircraft Maintenance also participates in providing air conditioning carts in the hot summer months. This essentially keeps the flight deck cool and provides cooling for the avionics. This is not an easy task in the Memphis summer, but it keeps our aircraft ready to dispatch and crews from starting the APUs too soon. We also prioritize our work by repairing those MEL (Minimum Equipment List) items that carry a fuel burn penalty. These are only a couple of things we are doing to help with Fuel Sense.

Sometimes we are not aware of the potential we have to influence the outcome and perhaps we think that only big quantities matter as oppose to saving a drop/gallon every day on every flight.  It’s the little things that add up for success:  marshaling aircraft – being there when we are needed to avoid causing the aircraft to stop and wait; awareness of fouled gates – forcing the aircraft to idle while waiting for a parking spot; wing walkers – making sure the walkers are aware of the inbound flight and are ready to assist.

I am very proud to be a part of the MEM aircraft line maintenance organization and of the support we provide for this program, but as I said, we are part of a bigger team. It takes the entire team to accomplish what we have and I am honored to be a member. It is not only our responsibility, but the right thing to do because that’s who we are.  It’s the FedEx way.

Fuel Sense blog posts:
Fuel Sense: It Only Works When We Work Together
Two Misunderstood Words: Economical and Responsible
Fuel Sustainability: When Does it Make Sense to go Extra Thick?
Saving Fuel to Defend our Nation
Fuel Sustainability: Simple Adjustments Save Millions
How We Overcame Cultural Inertia and Saved Millions


    Robert Cecchi says:

    Hello, any idea when FedEx and the FAA will sign the paperwork so that we can fly through Vietnam’s (VVTS) ADS-B airspace? Every flight from SIN or PEN to TPE or HKG we burn an unnessary 7 to 8 THOUSAND POUNDS OF fuel EACH flight as we’re not permitted to climb to 29,000 feet or higher when over the South China Sea! EASY FIX–we are allowed to climb about FL290 when we are routed over Vietnam itself. This has been going on for over a year now. Please respond to this e-mail so that I know someone has seen it.
    Thank you,
    Robert Cecchi
    MD-11 Captain, Anchorage.

    Tito Fogueroa says:

    I’m glad to see the fuel saving efforts being done on a large scale with aircrafts which encourages me to put them into place with my own delivery vehicle. I can do this by driving at moderate speeds load balancing and fueling at 1/2 gallon mark.

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