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Qantas “cloud” cost map to cut millions from annual fuel bill

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December 1st 2018

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Qantas expected to reduce its fuel bill by up to $40 million a year as a result of its new “cost map”; a revamp of its route planning system that took five years and a multi-million dollar investment to develop. Read More »

The Sydney Morning Herald reported earlier this month that the airline group was using cloud computing to crunch the data of thousands of possible flight paths and the factors they encounter during a journey to determine the most efficient route between destinations.

Put together in collaboration with the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics, the “Constellation” system was launched in October with several of Qantas’s A380s, B747s and B787s. It will be installed across the entire fleet by year-end 2019.

Qantas head of flight operations systems, Allen Dickinson, told media the new system had delivered impressive results.

On a recent flight from Sydney to Santiago Chile, Constellation slightly diverted from the airline’s B747 route to take advantage of a tailwind. It saved Qantas one tonne of fuel, Dickinson said.

“It’s a subtle shift to pick up the wind. And that is the beauty of the system. It’s just being able to find those subtle changes [in patterns] that we could not do in the old days of paper systems,” the A330 captain said.

“The older system was almost like planning in your car. You just go left and right basically. The new system, built on work with drones, adds wings to your vehicle. It lets you fly in that dimensional space and go to different altitudes at different times.”

Qantas estimates Constellation will reduce its fuel bill by close to one per cent a year, or US$40 million, based on the airline group’s estimate of US$4 billion in annual fuel costs.

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