How we fly our planes

The way we operate our aircraft makes a big difference to our environmental impact

Our Flight Operations team plays a critical role in managing and minimising the fuel consumption, noise performance and emissions of our modern aircraft fleet.

There are many areas of the world where we work with different authorities to allow us to fly as efficiently as possible.  Much progress has been made in recent years, with numerous successful achievements.  These include:


Emirates has invested in one of the best flight planning systems available, to carefully plan flights and optimise routes. By working with our partners at Airservices Australia (ASA) to use non-fixed (flexible) air traffic routes that are optimised for the prevailing weather, we save time, fuel and emissions – every day.

The Flextracks programme with ASA allows Emirates to use this technology on flights between and Australia. Over one year, we selected 592 flights between Dubai, Melbourne and Sydney to examine how this technology is working.

Looking just at our eastbound flights, Emirates managed to save 628 tonnes of fuel and 57 hours in trip time, over this period.  Every minute of flying time saved further reduces fuel consumption by an average of 62 litres and also reduces CO2 emissions by 160 kilograms – as less fuel needs to be carried (therefore less weight). The average saving per flight was six minutes of trip time and one tonne of trip fuel.  Analysing one recent flight from Dubai to Sydney, using this optimal air traffic management, we saved 8,040 kilograms of fuel and 43 minutes of flight time. This equates to an emissions saving of over 6,800 kilograms of CO2.


Emirates is the only airline using flexible routing on flights between Dubai and Sao Paolo in Brazil. The results are impressive in terms of reduced fuel burn, emissions and time savings. Using iFlex technology on flights from Dubai to Sao Paolo, Emirates saves up to 18 minutes of flight time and 7,700 kilograms of CO2.  We are working with IATA to implement these kinds of flexible routing systems across the world, as standard operating procedure.

Re-routing en route

Some governments allow us to use new Emirates own technology to modify the route of a flight once airborne. This is especially important for ultra long flights, where upper-level winds and meteorological parameters can change quickly – updating these regularly enables flight plans to be changed en-route. This technology allows Emirates Flight Dispatchers to re-run the flight plan from a waypoint while the aircraft is en route, generating a computer-optimised route, based on updated weather conditions. It can also be used when airspace restrictions are lifted while an aircraft is en route, thus improving efficiency. These re-routing procedures allow us to save time, fuel and emissions.

For example, Emirates now has route improvement (route shortenings) based on Emirates proposals with Australia, the Ukraine, Russia, Male, Indonesia and parts of Africa. Our Flight Operations team meets regularly with governments to further improve route structures to save fuel and emissions. In addition, one African route - 'the gold route' - has been taken up by ICAO and relevant states  It saves time and reduced fuel consumption on flights to West Africa and South America.

Tailored arrivals and Continuous Descent on Approach (CDA)

Emirates also invests in projects such as ‘tailored arrivals’. This is a concept that allows air traffic control in some countries to uplink to aircraft on route. Determining the speed and flight profile from top of descent onto the runway, this then allows the Emirates crew to accept and fly a continuous descent profile, saving fuel and emissions – rather than the traditional ‘stepped’ descent on approach. Australia is a leader in advancing this technology with Emirates, and many European states are now following suit.

Emirates is also working with local civil aviation authorities to develop these approaches in countries such as Yemen, Pakistan, Sudan and Lebanon.

Single engine taxiing

Emirates aircraft reduce fuel consumption by using a single engine to taxi where possible. This means our planes taxi to and from the runway using only one of its available engines to propel it forward. Studies suggest that one minute of single engine taxing per aircraft movement saves 430,000 litres of fuel annually.

Using fixed electrical ground power

To save fuel while parked at the gate, Emirates aircraft use fixed power supplies for powering air-conditioning and other aircraft electrical systems while on the ground. Previously, aircraft burned fuel to power Auxiliary Power Units (APU) when on the ground. Studies have shown that fixed electrical power units can reduce the amount of fuel burn used on ground power by up to 85 per cent.

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