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Researchers help Qantas fly cleaner and cheaper

23 June 2016
A 4D flight planning system designed by University of Sydney researchers will help Qantas to realise its ambition to fly greener.

Unveiled this week, the new flight planning system is the result of a world-first, four-year project conducted at the University’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR). The team comprising four aeronautical research fellows, 3 PhD candidates and 10 software engineers worked on designing new system models.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Professor Salah Sukkarieh inspect 4D Flight Plan 

They combined various aspects of flying, meteorology, traffic flow and fleet operations to design algorithms that will ultimately assist the aviation company to reduce its fuel consumption rates and improve operational efficiencies.

The 4D flight planning system is expected to be deployed next year.

Salah Sukkarieh, Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems and Director of Research and Innovation at the ACFR, said the newly created flight-planning algorithm assessed all available flight path options to find the best solution.

“Qantas has almost limitless ways to get between any two points on their flight network across the globe.

“The Qantas planning system is primarily responsible for finding the most operationally and fuel efficient routes for the airline’s flights.

“This process starts with aeronautical information or data such as traffic flow and weather patterns being fed into the flight planning system.

“It produces flight plans for the dispatch team for analysis and flight watch, then feeds updates to the aircraft.

“By optimising the path, aircraft speed and altitude, the system will deliver fuel benefits to Qantas,” says Professor Sukkarieh.

The benefits of a new flight planning system also include a reduction in CO2 emissions and fuel costs with flight path optimisation.

Professor Duncan Ivision, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), said he was delighted that Qantas has committed to a long-term industry relationship with the University, with ACFR researchers supporting the company in its planning of Boeing 787-9 ultra-long haul routes to Europe and the United States.

 

Victoria Hollick

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