As every complex machine, the performance of each aircraft varies through time. Physics simply explains the deterioration of the airframe and engine depending on how the aircraft has been operated. A lot of different factors such as the number of take-offs, number of flight cycles, operating conditions, thrust settings among others play a great role in that deterioration.
It means that for a given route, the amount of fuel needs to be adjusted to that deterioration. Unfortunately, civil aircraft cannot be refueled during flight so the added fuel required must be accounted during both the planning and at flight execution using what is called the Performance Factor. Several methods exist to determine this factor although, a significant set of sensor data and associated performance algorithms are recommended for the most accurate results. A regular monitoring and updating of this factor for each aircraft allows the most accurate fuel on-board and can even drive fuel savings.
Moreover, analyzing performance trends can bring high benefits by showing the effectiveness of a maintenance action or trigger a corrective action to high performance degradation such as engine wash. Both of which draw a clear link between flight operations and maintenance and should be supported by efficient communication.
In the current situation, with reduced or new type of operations, long term parked aircraft, engine swaps to get the most efficient aircraft flying, it is more than ever time to have a robust and efficient aircraft performance monitoring in place.
Fuel & Flight Efficiency Expert at NAVBLUE