New 'gliding' landing method for planes to slash fuel consumption

Aviation group Scandinavian Airlines System said on Monday it had designed a new landing method for aircraft, which could slash fuel consumption and emissions of carbon dioxide.

The new technique, which involves planes gliding into land following an optimum route mapped out by satellite, could save around 100kg of fuel in a twin-engined jet, the group said.

That is the equivalent of around 300kg of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere when the fuel is burnt, the company said.

"We win on two levels," said Thomas Midteide, spokesman for SAS Norway, the Norwegian airline run by the group.

"On one hand, we save fuel, on the other, we reduce our emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide)."

Carbon dioxide is widely considered a major greenhouse gas which is seen as contributing to climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientific body which assesses climate change, says air transport produces two per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions from humans and 13 per cent of CO2 from transport.

The new landing method involves an aircraft's engines being put into neutral as it comes into land, letting the plane glide in following a route mapped out for it by satellite.

Just before the craft lands, the pilot takes up the controls again.

The traditional method has pilots manually control the craft as it descends in stages over a large area, which uses a huge amount of fuel.

The new technique has so far only been tested in a simulator, but will be tried out in a Boeing 737 overnight from Monday to Tuesday in Tromsoe, northern Norway.

If the idea is approved by civil aviation authorities, it could be introduced to airlines run by the Scandinavian group.

The group believes the method would be best suited to quieter airports which are surrounded by hills or mountains.