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Navigating and Understanding EASA’s Latest Fuel/Energy Scheme Requirements

Navigating and Understanding EASA’s Latest Fuel/Energy Scheme Requirements

Sustainability is one of the most important trends in aviation today. As in any transport sector, sustainability partly translates into using resources more efficiently. The air transport industry burns jet fuel – lots of it. So, every opportunity to be more efficient and burn less fuel is a welcome development.

Fuel burn increases with weight carried. Since fuel itself represents weight, any means to safely reduce the amount of unnecessary or unused fuel reduces fuel waste. The idea is to find the right balance between fuel required for contingencies and the risk management involved in planning decisions, such as flight safety and network/schedule integrity.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which sets standards and recommended practices (SARPs) for global civil aviation, recognized their long-standing fuel planning requirements were becoming too conservative and prescriptive with recent developments in aircraft and engine reliability, voice and data communications, and weather information availability and accuracy.

The many unpredictable factors that previously had to be considered during the flight planning phase had vastly diminished in number and severity. As a result, based on industry best practices and input, a less restrictive and more performance-based approach to pre-flight and in-flight fuel management was produced.

Starting with Amendment 36, a modernized Annex 6, “Operation of Aircraft‚" saw the introduction of new SARPs and Additionally, ICAO Doc 9976, "Flight Planning and Fuel Management (FPFM) Manual (E1-2015)‚" provided expansive implementation guidance.

With the fuel planning policy itself now more integrated with aerodrome selection and the in-flight fuel management policy, a new safety performance baseline and safety performance indicators (SPIs) to track compliance were introduced.

Many years ago, the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA), the precursor to today's European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA), introduced ways to regulate refinements of the ICAO-prescribed planned contingency fuel as long as operators and their National Aviation Authorities (NAA) agreed on the required data and infrastructure needed for the options. Other NAAs around the globe also were working toward allowing operators to take advantage of equipment improvements and reliability, with some providing operator-specific special allowances.

Permitting EASA operators to use certain refinements required some form of fuel consumption monitoring program – one that would use validated data and cover a wide range of parameters. These enhancements effectively reduced fuel waste and did not provide a burden on the most popular refinement: lowering the contingency fuel requirement from the trip fuel basic 5% to 3%, providing an en-route alternate (ERA) aerodrome was available and was nominated on the flight plan.

Following the 2021 publication of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/1296, EASA recently issued Executive Director's Decision 2022/005/R. It becomes effective Oct. 30, 2022. This means Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 ("EU Air OPS") now brings current ICAO Annex 6 Parts I, II, and III SARPs on fuel planning and management into the EU legal framework.

EASA's publication recognizes “energy” as a new term, as fuel no longer will be the only resource that needs careful pre-flight planning and in-flight management. It details acceptable means of compliance (AMC) and guidance material (GM) to facilitate implementing the new requirements on fuel/energy planning and management.

It also will provide CAT operators with improved efficiency in fuel/energy planning and management while maintaining high safety levels and giving more flexibility with the introduction of the “fuel schemes” concept.

What does it all mean?

EASA recognizes different operators have diverse needs, and not all operators are created equally or with similar resources at their disposal. Three fuel schemes have been put forward, ranging from basic to advanced in terms of compliance and monitoring effort, with the first being the easiest for implementation and compliance.

The overarching principle is each operator must now establish, implement and maintain a fuel/energy scheme appropriate for the intended type of operation and it must correspond to the operator’s capability to support the implementation.

All fuel/energy schemes must consist of policies for fuel/energy planning, in-flight re-planning, aerodrome selection and in-flight fuel/energy management.

EASA's Fuel/Energy Schemes

Basic Scheme:

Appropriately called Basic Scheme, this scheme follows well-known and standard fuel/energy planning with 5% contingency fuel, at least one nominated alternate and 30 minutes of final reserve fuel/energy.

The usual caveats apply, including all AMCs for Basic Fuel Schemes.

Basic Scheme with Variations:

This scheme covers the previously accepted 3% contingency fuel and Statistical Contingency Fuel options under EASA fuel planning, as well as the Reduced Contingency Fuel (RCF) method. The use of Statistical Taxi Fuel falls under this scheme. However, where EU Air OPS’s guidance on "establishing and maintaining a fuel consumption monitoring system for individual airplanes and using valid data for fuel calculations based on such systems" was formerly applicable only to the use of Statistical Contingency Fuel, now it also will apply to the use of the 3%+ERA Variation.

AMCs for Basic Scheme with Variations apply to the specific deviation(s) sought, while Basic Scheme AMCs will apply to the rest of the fuel scheme.

Individual Fuel Scheme:

Operators wishing to apply an Individual Fuel Scheme must meet a string of requirements in planning tools used, aircraft equipment, operational data gathering and operational control. However, most established, larger operators will meet, or be close to meeting, these requirements and will need to focus on Safety Performance Management and the associated Safety Performance Indicators (SPIs). Full details in CAT.OP.MPA.180 Fuel/Energy Scheme — Aeroplanes, page 12.

AMCs for the Individual Fuel Scheme apply to the specific deviation(s) sought, while Basic Scheme AMCs and Basic Scheme with Variation AMCs cover the rest of the fuel scheme, as applicable.


Where does this leave operators?

There are three key takeaways for operators as they navigate this new guidance:

  1. All EASA-regulated operators must work with their NAAs to establish a fuel/energy scheme appropriate for their type of operation. NAAs must assess if the proposed fuel scheme corresponds to the operator’s capability to support and maintain the implementation.
  2. Going forward, operators currently using the 3%+ERA method, the most widely used EASA "relaxation" of planned contingency fuel, will need to establish and maintain a fuel consumption monitoring system if they do not already have one in place.
  3. Finally, operators wishing to apply an Individual Fuel Scheme will have to start collecting and managing Safety KPIs to meet implementation and compliance with their proposed scheme. EASA lists the following Safety KPIs:
  • Flights with 100% consumption of contingency fuel
  • Flights with x percentage consumption of the contingency fuel (e.g. 85%), or as agreed by the operator and the competent authority
  • Difference between planned and actual trip fuel
  • Landings with less than the final reserve fuel (FRF) remaining
  • Flights landing with less than x minutes of fuel remaining (e.g. 45 minutes), or as agreed by the operator and the competent authority
  • “MINIMUM FUEL” declarations
  • “MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY FUEL” declarations
  • In-flight re-planning to the planned destination due to fuel shortage, including committing to land at the destination by canceling the planned destination alternate
  • Diversion to an ERA to protect FRF
  • Diversion to the destination alternate aerodrome
  • Any other indicator with the potential of demonstrating the suitability or unsuitability of the alternate aerodrome and fuel planning policy

The new EASA mandate requires airlines operating with the 3%+ERA contingency fuel planning to start using a fuel consumption monitoring system, which is certainly doable. But why stop there when more savings can be achieved by adopting the Statistical Contingency Fuel (SCF) method, using the same data (and investment) you will need for the 3%+ERA method anyway?

At Honeywell, we have over a dozen years of experience with this kind of data. Our best-in-class Honeywell Forge Flight Efficiency platform is specifically designed to help build the kind of data and associated analysis needed to prepare for – and meet – the regulatory requirements needed to leverage the SCF method. Download our latest SCF whitepaper on the “Resources” tab of this page for even more information on this topic.

NAAs know and trust our capabilities, and airlines around the globe confidently dispatch their flights based on intelligence derived from our system every day. Let us help you adopt and manage the EASA scheme that is right for your operation while providing you with the reliability and scalability you need in a fuel/operational efficiency program. Get in touch with our sales team to learn more.

Sander de Moor

Sander de Moor supports the Honeywell Forge Flight Efficiency team with technical sales and fuel efficiency consulting expertise. Prior to joining Honeywell he held fuel management positions with various large airlines.