Unique sustainable flight lands at Edmonton International Airport

KLM's most efficient commercial flight lands at the EIA. Global News

Saturday afternoon a KLM flight from Amsterdam landed at the Edmonton International Airport (EIA). While looking at the plane from the outside, it seemed like a regular flight, but it was actually much more efficient.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines president and CEO Pieter Elbers said this is the first flight of its kind for the company, setting a record for using the largest amount of sustainable aviation fuel ever on a commercial flight.

The aircraft carried two per cent less fuel but had 76 more passengers than normal. The company said it equals about 26 per cent less C02 emissions per passenger.

Read more: WestJet signs code-share agreement with KLM

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The KLM flight was a long-haul entry for the Sustainable Flight Challenge by Skyteam. Sixteen airlines are taking part in the friendly competition and the goal is to take steps to create the most sustainable flight possible.

“We have a lot of the same values and the same ambitions, the same drive to go for sustainable aviation,” Elbers said.

Read more: Edmonton International Airport gets $10.4M from feds for COVID-19 recovery, testing

EIA president Tom Ruth said he is honoured the airline picked Alberta’s capital.

“This is like a dream come true. It’s for our region but also for our future. Think about our kids and grandkids, about what we are doing and set a leadership example,” Ruth said.

The flight didn’t stop at fuel to make it more sustainable. Ruth was onboard and said everything from take-off to the utensils used was carefully planned out.

“When we were getting ready for take-off, rather than using the engines to take us to the taxiway, there was a remote vehicle that took us out to the taxiway,” Ruth said.

“Some of the utensils on the plane were light so that you’re not burning as much emissions with a lighter plane.

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“The blankets did not have plastic on them, it saves about 40 tonnes of plastic per year.”

The airline also used digital products for information. Passengers were asked to select their meals ahead of time to reduce waste and weight and the airline worked with air traffic control to avoid any detours.

Frans Huisman was the captain of the flight. He has been in the industry for almost 30 years. He said pilots always look for the most efficient route, but he never thought he would be able to fly an aircraft this sustainable.

“We basically flew the most perfect route, the most optimal route from Amsterdam to Edmonton. To plan it, all air traffic control centres cooperated and during the flight we were able to move a bit to take in all the wind patterns to farther optimize our flight,” Huisman said.

“We flew over Greenland and there is a lot of ice there and it feels good that you’re flying with a biofuel aircraft.”

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between KLM and EIA to collaborate further on sustainability.

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